Florida shooting victims' names revealed
THE victims of the Florida airport shooting have started to be named as the alleged killer is charged with murder.
Esteban Santiago, 26, who served two tours in Iraq, flew from Anchorage to Minneapolis-St. Paul and connected to Fort Lauderdale.
It is there where he shot dead five people and injured another eight.
Those killed include a great grandmother who was about to take a cruise for her husband's 90th birthday.
Olga Woltering, who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, was described as a "wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend".
Terry Andres, a 62-year-old man from Virginia, was on holiday with his wife when he was shot dead.
His wife escaped unharmed.
Andres was loved by his local community and was due to celebrate his 63rd birthday soon, his daughter said.
One man who is extremely lucky to be alive is Steve Frappier. A laptop sticking out of his backpack stopped a bullet from entering his body.
"It was only later when I went to the bathroom to check myself out that (I found) the bullet had entered my backpack, hit my laptop," he said.
The names were released as more information was discovered about the accused shooter, Esteban Santiago, 26.
He was deployed in 2010 as part of the Puerto Rico National Guard, spending a year with an engineering battalion, according to Guard spokesman Major Paul Dahlen.
The Record newspaper reports Maria Ruiz Rivera, of Union City in New Jersey, was told by relatives in Florida that the suspected shooter who killed at least five people and injured eight was her nephew, Esteban Santiago-Ruiz.
Santiago's uncle and aunt were trying to make sense of what they were hearing about Santiago after his arrest at the Fort Lauderdale airport when FBI agents arrived at their house to question them.
Maria Ruiz told The Record that her nephew had recently become a father and was struggling.
"It was like he lost his mind," she said in Spanish of his return from Iraq.
"He said he saw things."
"Only thing I could tell you was when he came out of Iraq, he wasn't feeling too good," his uncle, Hernan Rivera, told The Record.
Santiago was flying from Anchorage on a Delta flight and had checked only one piece of luggage, which contained the gun.
Santiago was charged in a domestic violence case in January 2016, damaging a door when he forced his way into a bathroom at his girlfriend's Anchorage home.
The woman told officers he yelled at her to leave, strangled her and smacked her on the side of the head, according to charging documents.
A month later municipal prosecutors said he violated the conditions of his release when officers found him at her home during a routine check.
He told police he had lived there since he was released from custody the previous month.
His Anchorage attorney, Max Holmquist, declined to discuss his client.
Since returning from Iraq, Santiago served in the Army Reserves and the Alaska National Guard in Anchorage. He was serving as a combat engineer in the Guard before his discharge for "unsatisfactory performance," said Lt. Colonel Candis Olmstead, a spokeswoman.
His military rank upon discharge was E3, private 1st class, and he worked one weekend a month with an additional 15 days of training yearly, Olmstead said.
SUSPECT WAS QUESTIONED BY FBI
A law enforcement official told AP that Santiago had walked into the FBI office in Anchorage in November to say that the US government was controlling his mind and making him watch Islamic State videos.
Agents questioned an agitated and disjointed-sounding Santiago and then called police, who took him for a mental health evaluation, according to the official, who was not authorised to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The official said Santiago did not appear intent on hurting anyone. Authorities said the motive for the attack was under investigation.
Shortly after the shooting, and before details of Santiago's mental health became public, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida said that it remained to be seen whether it was terrorism or the work of "someone who is mentally deranged".
One witness said the attacker gunned down his victims without a word and kept shooting until he ran out of ammunition for his handgun, sending panicked travellers running out of the terminal and spilling onto the tarmac, baggage in hand.
Others hid in bathroom stalls or crouched behind cars or anything else they could find as police and paramedics rushed in to help the wounded and establish whether there were any other gunmen.
Santiago arrived in Fort Lauderdale after taking off from Anchorage aboard a Delta flight Thursday night, checking only one piece of luggage - his gun, said Jesse Davis, police chief at the Anchorage airport.
At Fort Lauderdale, "after he claimed his bag, he went into the bathroom and loaded the gun and started shooting. We don't know why," said Chip LaMarca, a Broward County commissioner who was briefed by investigators.
It is legal for airline passengers to travel with guns and ammunition as long as the firearms are put in a checked bag - not a carry-on - and are unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container. Guns must be declared to the airline at check-in.
The attack also exposed another weak point in airport security: While travellers have to take off their shoes, put their carry-on luggage through X-ray machines and pass through metal detectors to reach the gates, many other sections of airports, such as ticket counters and baggage claim areas, are more lightly secured and more vulnerable to attack.
The Fort Lauderdale gunman said nothing as he "went up and down the carousels of the baggage claim, shooting through luggage to get at people that were hiding," according to Lea. The killer went through about three magazines before running out of ammunition, Lea said.
"He threw the gun down and laid spread-eagle on the ground until the officer came up to him," Lea said.
The gunman was arrested unharmed, with no shots fired by law enforcement officers, and was being questioned by the FBI, Sheriff Scott Israel said.
The condition of the wounded was not disclosed. At least one of the victims was seen lying in a pool of blood with what appeared to be a head wound. The airport was shut down, with incoming flights diverted and outgoing flights held on the ground.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT SUSPECT
Lt. Colonel Candis Olmstead said Esteban received a general discharge from the Alaska Army National Guard last year for unsatisfactory performance.
The Pentagon said Santiago had gone AWOL several times since joining the Alaska National Guard in November 2014 and was demoted - from specialist to private first class - and given a general discharge.
Puerto Rico National Guard spokesman Maj. Paul Dahlen said that Santiago was deployed to Iraq in 2010 and spent a year there with the 130th Engineer Battalion, the 1013th engineer company out of Aguadilla.
Olmstead also said that Santiago had served in the Army Reserves prior to joining the Alaska Army National Guard.
Florida airport shooting
His brother Bryan told NBC that he had been receiving psychological treatment in Alaska, where he had been living.
Esteban had been working as a security guard in Alaska where he also had a girlfriend and child.
"He was pro-America," Bryan told NBC.
He described his brother as "a regular person, spiritual, a good person" but he had been "fighting with a lot of people" during his time in Alaska.
The shooter, who wore a Star Wars T-shirt, said nothing as he fired, witnesses told MSNBC.
He appeared to use a 9mm handgun, which he tossed aside upon running out of ammunition, surrendering to police, MSNBC reported.
The shooter was arrested without incident by a Broward Sherrif Deputy. He is uninjured.
The motive for the attack is not yet known.
If it becomes apparent the incident was terrorist related, the investigation will be turned over to the FBI.
Shots fired at FLL airport. Guy is bleeding profusely. Supposedly others are shot on the lower level at Delta Term 2. pic.twitter.com/UcL73Y8yGx— Maxwill Solutions (@MxWllSolutions) January 6, 2017
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport director Mark Gale said it was unclear when the airport would reopen.
The shooting happened near the baggage claim area inside Terminal 2, which serves Delta Air Lines and Air Canada.
Fort Lauderdale is a major tourist hub and beach resort in the greater Miami area.
The airport is one of the top 25 busiest airports in the US.