FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - The gunman responsible for the mass shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has arrived at a federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.
Just after 9 a.m., 26-year-old Esteban Santiago arrived to the federal courthouse where he appeared for his first hearing, Monday morning. He was seen surrounded by U.S. Marshals as he walked inside the courthouse, at 11:15 a.m.
This is the first time he faces a judge since he was accused of killing five people in the baggage claim area at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Friday afternoon.
He was officially read his charges, including performing an act of violence at an international airport resulting in death, which carries a maximum punishment of execution, and weapons charges with multiple counts of murder.
Two of those charges carry a life in prison or death penalty sentence.
“The most serious charge pending against him is the act of violence at an international airport that carries the potential of the death penalty,” said attorney David Weinstien.
Prosecutors said Santiago flew from Alaska to Fort Lauderdale. Before his flight, he legally checked in a gun, and once at FLL, he loaded the gun in a bathroom before he shot 13 people, five whom died.
Surveillance video appears to show Santiago as he pulled the gun from his pants and began to shoot as the people behind him ran to safety. “All of a sudden, we heard, pop, pop, pop,” said one witness.
The shooting, witnesses said, lasted less than a minute. The Broward Sheriff’s Office arrested Santiago within minutes.
Back in his home in Alaska, neighbors said they were stunned to hear what happened. “He was always pleasant,” said Santiago’s neighbor, Perette Carter, “didn’t show any signs of threat.”
According to the FBI, however, Santiago believed he was being influenced by ISIS. Officials took Santiago’s gun from him but returned it in December.
The judge in court asked when Santiago last worked, and he said it was for a security services company, Signal 88, in Anchorage, Alaska. Santiago said he lost that job in November.
Prior to the job in Alaska, Santiago said he was enlisted in the Army for a decade, where he made about $15,000 a year. As of Monday, he told the judge he only had about $5 to $10 in his pocket.
Santiago went on to say he owned no property anywhere in the United States.
Santiago told investigators that he planned the Friday attack, buying a one-way ticket to the Fort Lauderdale airport, a federal complaint said. Authorities don’t know why he chose his target and have not ruled out terrorism.
Surveillance video from the baggage claim was released to TMZ illegally. There is now an investigation to find out who released the chilling video.
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