Federal prosecutors charged Esteban Santiago with three federal crimes on Saturday for his alleged role in the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting. According to court documents, Santiago is charged with performing an act of violence against a person at an airport serving international civil aviation, using a firearm in a crime of violence, and causing death with a firearm. He could face the death penalty for each of the crimes if found guilty. The federal charges are distinct from any charges that could be filed by Florida state prosecutors in the future. According to ABC News, Santiago has not provided federal and state investigators with a motive for his alleged crimes.
What we know:
—Five people are dead and 37 were injured after someone opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, according to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.
—The incident occurred at baggage claim in Terminal 2 of the airport.
—A suspect is in custody.
—This is a developing story and we’ll be following it here. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
Federal Prosecutors File Charges Against Alleged Airport Shooter
Suspect's Brother Says He Served in National Guard, Sought Psychological Treatment
Bryan Santiago told the Associated Press that his brother, Estoban Santiago, who several news agencies have named as the suspect behind the shooting, was receiving psychological treatment in Alaska, though he said he did not know what his brother was being treated for. Santiago, according to his brother, had served in the Puerto Rican National Guard for a couple of years, and a Puerto Rico National Guard spokesman said Santiago was deployed to Iraq for a year in 2010. Florida Senator Bill Nelson said Santiago’s military ID was found on the gunman, but stopped short of confirming that the ID belonged to him. A Canadian Embassy spokeswoman said the suspect is believed to have travelled to Fort Lauderdale from Anchorage, with a transfer in Minneapolis, though it is unclear what airline the suspect used. In a press conference, Florida Governor Rick Scott said the investigation is still ongoing, and added that though he did not talk to President Obama, he did reach out to President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
FAA: No Flights Arriving, Departing From Fort Lauderdale Airport
A 'Fluid and Active' Scene
Broward County Sheriff Steve Israel described a “fluid and active” scene at the airport as area SWAT teams cleared the area. At a news conference, he said the investigation is continuing. The shooter is unharmed, he said, and was taken into custody by a Broward County deputy without incident. He said the FBI and the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) were questioning the suspect. BSO is leading the investigation, he said. Reports of a second shooting were unconfirmed, he said. “There is no active second shooter,” he said.
George Piro, the FBI special agent in charge, said it was “too early” to attribute a motive to the shooting. Mark Gale, the airport director, said operations at the airport were “suspended … for the time being.” It’s unclear, he said, when they will resume. He said everyone at the airport was sheltered in place.
Officials declined to comment on reports that the shooter was a passenger on an inbound flight who had checked a gun in with his luggage.
More from Governor Rick Scott
Rick Scott, the Florida governor, says he is in Fort Lauderdale and has spoken to President-elect Donald Trump about the shooting at the airport. He says they spoke about “security and safety” at Florida airports.
The Latest from the FAA
Shooter Has Been Identified
Several news agencies are identifying the shooter as Esteban Santiago, who they say was arrested carrying a military ID. Santiago’s name was first released by Senator Bill Nelson of Florida during an interview with MSNBC. Not much else is known about him at this time.
NBC News: Multiple senior law enforcement sources say Esteban Santiago born 3/1990 is in custody. Had military ID on him. Born in NJ.— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) January 6, 2017
“At first we thought it was firecrackers,” Mark Lea, 53, told MSNBC. “Everyone started screaming and running. The shooter made his way down through baggage claim. He had what looked like a 9 mm and emptied his entire clip. People were trying to run.”
John Schicher told MSNBC the gunman began firing just feet away from where he was standing with his wife and his mother-in-law. “He walked over and he was right in our area, like within just feet of us, shooting people,” he said. “I didn't know if I would be shot or if my wife or my mother-in-law would either.”
Unconfirmed Reports of Additional Shots, Sheriff's Office Says
Active search: Unconfirmed reports of addt'l shots fired on airport property.— Broward Sheriff (@browardsheriff) January 6, 2017
Such reports often turn out to be false, and we’ll keep an eye on the situation and update it when we learn more.
Airport Closed 'For an Extended Period of Time'
Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport says the airport “will be closed for an extended period of time.”
Trump Is Monitoring the Situation
Monitoring the terrible situation in Florida. Just spoke to Governor Scott. Thoughts and prayers for all. Stay safe!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2017
5 Dead, 8 Taken to Hospital, Sheriff's Office Says
Update: 5 ppl dead; 8 injured were taken to an area hospital.— Broward Sheriff (@browardsheriff) January 6, 2017
FAA Issues Ground Stop
Here’s Conde Nast Traveler on ground stops: “It’s an order issued by the Federal Aviation Administration whenever they need to freeze operations. It requires that flights scheduled to land at the affected airport be held at their departure point.”
A First-Hand Perspective of the Incident
Ari Fleischer, the former White House spokesman, was at the airport when the incident took place. Here’s what he tweeted:
I'm at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport. Shots have been fired. Everyone is running.— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) January 6, 2017
The police said there is one shooter and five victims.— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) January 6, 2017
All seems calm now but the police aren't letting anyone out of the airport - at least not the area where I am.— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) January 6, 2017
Governor Rick Scott Heads to the Area
“I am on my way to Fort Lauderdale International Airport to be briefed by law enforcement,” Rick Scott, Florida’s governor, said on Twitter.
8 People Taken to Hospital
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office says eight people were taken to hospital after the shooting. Their conditions are unknown. There is no official word on the number of fatalities.
Increased Security at Other Local Facilities
Mike Hernandez, a spokesman for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez, said security had been increased at the Miami airport and the Port of Miami “out of an abundance of caution.” Broward County is part of the Miami metropolitan area.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said:
Confirmed: Shooting at Fort Lauderdale -Hollywood International Airport with multiple people dead. One subject in custody.— Broward Sheriff (@browardsheriff) January 6, 2017
It said the department received a call around 12:55 p.m. about shots fired at the airport. The upper level of airport is open, the department added.
The airport tweeted the incident occurred “in Terminal 2, Baggage Claim.”