The latest suspect in a mass shooting made an appearance at a preliminary hearing in federal court on Monday morning before Magistrate Alicia Valle. Magistrate Valle explained the charges and proceedings to the accused during a short fifteen minute hearing. She ordered Santiago held without bond until a detention hearing next week. Santiago, who was represented by counsel, stared down during the hearing and took long deeps breaths in an attempt to compose himself. Santiago said he understood the nature of the crimes against him and that he faced the death penalty.
Esteban Santiago broke the relative peace of the Ft Lauderdale International Airport last Friday, January 7th, when he opened fire on other passengers picking up baggage from an Alaskan Airline flight that had just landed. Santiago had a handgun in his checked baggage, which retrieved from his suitcase, loaded and opened fire on surrounding passengers in the baggage pickup are. Santiago’s barrage killed five and wounded six more. Santiago is a 26-year-old Iraq War veteran who was recently discharged from the National Guard.
Santiago has had a number of interactions with the justice system prior to airport attack. During 2016, Santiago was repeatedly reported to Anchorage police for domestic violence. He came to the attention of the FBI when he walked into the local office in Anchorage and reported that he believe the government was surreptitiously influencing him to fall prey to ISIS propaganda. At that time, Santiago was committed for observation at a local facility for observation. Later he was released from observation and his weapons were returned to him in December. No motive has been given for the shootings.
Esteban Santiago next court appearance is on January 17 concerning his detention and will be officially arraigned on the twenty-third of this month at which time he will enter a plea.