Alleged airport shooter due in court on earlier Alaska case

Author: Associated Press
This booking photo provided by the Broward Sheriff’s Office shows suspect Esteban Ruiz Santiago, 26, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Relatives of the man who police say opened fire Friday killing several people and wounding others at a Florida airport report he had a history of mental health issues. They tell The Associated Press and other news outlets that some of the problems followed his time serving a military tour in Iraq, and that he was being treated at his current home in Alaska. (Broward Sheriff’s Office via AP)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) The Alaska man accused of opening fire at a Florida airport, killing five people, is scheduled for a Wednesday court hearing in Anchorage to be sentenced in an earlier domestic violence case.

Esteban Santiago had agreed to take part in a deferred sentence program that included completing a 12-week anger management course following the January 2016 incident.

Santiago, 27, is accused of breaking through a bathroom door and striking his girlfriend in the head at their Anchorage home. He is charged with misdemeanor assault and criminal mischief.

Assistant Municipal Attorney Michael Shaffer said Santiago will not personally attend the proceeding. Santiago’s Anchorage lawyer’s office declined to say if he will phone in from Florida, where he’s been in federal custody since the Jan. 6 deadly shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

In that case, Santiago is accused of flying overnight from Anchorage to Florida. Authorities say that after arriving, Santiago retrieved his gun from checked baggage, went into a bathroom and came out shooting, killing five and wounding six other people.

Santiago is scheduled for a Jan. 22 trial date in the mass shooting. The trial was originally set for October, but was delayed to give the Justice Department more time to decide whether to seek the death penalty.

Santiago pleaded not guilty to a 22-count indictment in the shooting. He has been diagnosed as schizophrenic but his lawyers say he is competent for trial.

The FBI says Santiago told agents after the shooting that he acted under government mind control, and then claimed inspiration by the Islamic State extremist group. No terrorism links have been found.

After the Anchorage domestic violence incident, Santiago listed that case on his July 2016 application to the state of Alaska for a security guard license, but he added, “No charge.”

In November, Santiago showed up at the Anchorage FBI office, complaining of government mind control and voices in his head. The FBI handed him off to Anchorage police, which took him for a five-day hold at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute. Santiago gave them his gun for safekeeping so no one would steal it out of his car.

The gun was returned to him in December, and authorities say it was the same weapon used in the Florida shooting.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.