Broward mayor reveals FLL shooting suspect’s South Florida connection

FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief has revealed that Fort Lauderdale airport shooting suspect Esteban Santiago had been to South Florida before Friday’s deadly rampage.

In an interview with 7News, Sharief said the link between Santiago and South Florida may go beyond a prior visit. “There may have been some South Florida connections,” she said.

When asked whether those connections have Fort Lauderdale ties, Sharief replied, “Not Fort Lauderdale specifically. They just said South Florida, possibly Miami as well … close friends or family.”

Sharief is not sure how close those loved ones are to the suspected gunman, but suggested he may have been coming to visit them when he came to South Florida.

More details are expected to come to light in federal court when Santiago goes before a judge for the first time, Monday morning.

If found guilty, Santiago could face the death penalty. When asked whether that sentence would be warranted, Sharief replied, “You know, for me, I think the five victims of his heinous crime, this senseless act of life-taking, I would probably say yes, and I would concur with that.”

In November, police in Anchorage, Alaska said they took Santiago’s gun from him when he told FBI agents the CIA was trying to control his mind and pushing him to watch ISIS videos. He went for a psychiatric evaluation, and one month later he got his gun back.

Friday afternoon, authorities said, Santiago opened fired in a baggage claim area at FLL’s Terminal 2, killing five people and injuring six others.

“A senseless loss of life, when there were signs of mental illness, or even signs that a person was unstable psychologically … should trigger some type of reserve in terms of giving them a weapon,” said Sharief. “I’m disappointed. This could have possibly been prevented.”

As for the surveillance video of the shooting released to TMZ, Sharief said she is upset that someone with security clearance would release it, and they have launched an investigation.

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