Esteban Santiago, alleged gunman in Florida airport shooting, was born in New Jersey
The man accused of opening fire at the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport Friday afternoon, killing at least five people and injuring eight others, was born in New Jersey, the suspect's brother has told the Associated Press.
Bryan Santiago told the AP that his brother, 26-year-old Esteban Santiago, was born in New Jersey and moved to Puerto Rico when he was 2 years old.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson said that the gunman was carrying a military ID that also identified him as Esteban Santiago. Nelson gave no further information on the suspect.
Florida officials say the gunman arrived on a flight that originated in Alaska, and stopped in Minnesota, pulled his gun out of a checked bag in the baggage claim area, loaded it in the bathroom, and started shooting.
A witness says Santiago gunned down his victims without a word and kept shooting until he ran out of ammunition for his handgun, sending panicked travelers running out of the terminal and spilling onto the tarmac, baggage in hand.
He was taken into custody after throwing his empty weapon down and lying spread-eagle on the ground, one witness said.
A law enforcement source tells News 12 New Jersey that the FBI is conducting an investigation in Union City related to the shooting at the airport.
A spokesperson for the FBI says, "FBI Newark is in the vicinity of Union City conducting an official law enforcement investigation," but would not elaborate.
Esteban Santiago served in the Puerto Rican National Guard for a few years. He was deployed to Iraq in 2010 and spent a year there with the 130th Engineer Battalion, the 1013th engineer company out of Aguadilla, according to Puerto Rico National Guard spokesman Maj. Paul Dahlen.
He received a general discharge from the Alaska Army National Guard last year for unsatisfactory performance, according to military spokesman Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead.
His brother says that he had been receiving psychological treatment while living in Alaska, but did not know why he was being treated.
But a law enforcement official told the Associated Press that Santiago had previously told the FBI that the government was controlling his mind and was forcing him to watch Islamic State group videos.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, says FBI agents in Anchorage completed their interview with Santiago and called the police, who took him for a mental health evaluation.
The FBI's Anchorage field office said in a statement that it was aware Santiago was an Anchorage resident and that it was assisting in the investigation, but it declined to comment further.
A motive for the shooting was not immediately released. The identities of the victims are also being withheld for the time being until their families can be notified.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel says reports of a second shooting or additional victims at the airport were unfounded.
The shooting prompted security increases at area airports. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says that security patrols would be increased and offices with heavy tactical weapons would be stationed at Newark Liberty International, John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports.
The Fort Lauderdale airport is closed for the time being. Updates are being posted on the airports Twitter page. Anyone traveling to Florida is urged to contact their carrier to find out the status of their flights.
Officials say they hope to have the airport reopened by 5 a.m. Saturday.