It made international news: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport was the scene of a shooting in which five people were killed and more were injured. In the wake of the shooting, we are learning more about the shooter and his victims.
According to FBI reports, Esteban Santiago, the 26-year-old Alaskan man confessed to be the shooter, had his weapon removed from him in November. He walked into an FBI office voluntarily and told officials that he believed his mind was being controlled by US Intelligence. At that time, Santiago had left his gun in his car. Despite officials’ concerns, Santiago was not adjudicated as having mental health issues and had not committed a crime. Because of these things, his gun was returned to him.
After the National Guard veteran retrieved his weapon, he bought a one-way ticket to Fort Lauderdale. The man took his weapon and two magazines with him. Upon landing in Fort Lauderdale, Santiago entered an airport bathroom, loaded his gun and came out firing. Admittedly, Santiago aimed for the heads of his victims. He told officials that he believed he fired 15 bullets.
Family members of Santiago say that he returned from a 10-month tour of duty in Iraq a changed man. He reported having visions and became increasingly distant from friends and family. Despite reaching out to Santiago, family members say that he didn’t communicate in return.
Victims of the shooting include a 63-year-old man, Terry Andres, who was beginning a vacation with his wife. A second victim, 84-year-old Olga Woltering, was described as a great grandmother traveling with her husband for a cruise. More information is expected to be released this week as officials move ahead in charging Santiago with crimes that carry the possibility of the death penalty.
If you or a loved one have been injured due to gun violence in West Palm Beach, reach out to our office for a free case evaluation.