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Fort Lauderdale airport shooting suspect pleads not guilty

Esteban Santiago pleads not guilty to all 22 charges

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport shooter Esteban Santiago leaves jail on his way to the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport shooter Esteban Santiago leaves jail on his way to the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The suspect in the Jan. 6 shooting spree at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport pleaded not guilty Monday morning in federal court, according to a report from WPLG.

Esteban Santiago pleaded not guilty to all 22 charges during a hearing in Fort Lauderdale.

Attorneys for Santiago are seeking a jury trial.

The FBI said that Santiago flew from Alaska to Fort Lauderdale, took the gun out of a checked gun box, loaded it in a bathroom and started randomly firing at innocent victims in a baggage claim area.

According to revelations made by prosecutors in court earlier this month, Santiago spent five days in a psychiatric hospital in Anchorage, where he was given anti-anxiety and sleeping medications. The FBI said none of the drugs were to treat mental illness.

Prosecutors said Santiago walked into the FBI office in Anchorage on Nov. 6 and told federal agents that he was hearing voices and that his mind was being controlled by the CIA. That led to his psychiatric evaluation.

The FBI said the gun used in the attack was later returned to Santiago after he was released from the hospital, where doctors determined that Santiago was stable. The FBI said Santiago picked up his gun after he was interviewed twice by federal agents.

Agents said Santiago, who legally purchased the gun and had a permit to carry a firearm, spent time at shooting ranges in Alaska.

Prosecutors claim there were 20 security cameras that captured Santiago's actions from the time he got off the plane to when he opened fire in Terminal 2.

Investigators said Santiago told them he visited the "dark web" shortly before the rampage, going from chat room to chat room speaking to ISIS members and sympathizers who were plotting other attacks. The FBI is investigating to determine if there is any validity to his statements.

Santiago is charged with five counts of causing death at an international airport, six counts of causing serious bodily harm at an international airport, five counts of causing death during a crime of violence and six counts of using a firearm during a crime of violence. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Most of the five victims who were killed in the attack were in South Florida for a cruise. They were identified as Shirley Timmons, 70, of Ohio; Mary Amzibel, 69, of Ohio; Michael Oehme, 57, of Council Bluffs, Iowa; Olga Woltering, 84, of Marietta, Georgia; and Terry Andres, 62, of Virginia Beach, Virginia. 


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