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Esteban Santiago 

MIAMI (AP) — An Alaska man will not face the death penalty on charges of killing five people and wounding six in a shooting rampage at a Florida airport, authorities announced Tuesday.

Instead, Esteban Santiago agreed to plead guilty, serve a life sentence and give up all appeals rights under a plea deal between his attorneys and federal prosecutors that was announced in court. His actual guilty plea and sentencing would occur at a later date.

Santiago, 28, of Anchorage, Alaska, is charged in a 22-count indictment in the January 2017 shooting in a baggage claim area at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Trial had been set to begin June 11.

U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom asked Santiago, dressed in a tan jail outfit and in chains, if he understood the agreement he was making.

“Yes, your honor,” he replied.

According to the indictment, Santiago flew on a one-way ticket from Alaska to Fort Lauderdale with a 9 mm handgun in a box he put in checked luggage. After landing he retrieved the weapon, loaded it in a bathroom and came out firing randomly until he exhausted his ammunition.

Since his arrest, Santiago has been treated at a Miami jail for schizophrenia but his lawyers say he is mentally fit for trial. He complained of mental problems before the shooting but was not barred from possessing a gun.

Bloom said she wanted a mental evaluation done before accepting the plea deal because of the rights Santiago would be giving up.

She set a mental competency hearing for May 23.

“That is the court’s utmost concern,” she said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Del Toro said the agreement was approved by senior Justice Department officials and in consultation with families of the slain victims. In the federal system, all prosecutions in which the death penalty is a possibility must be approved by the attorney general.

“The attorney general has given us the authority not to seek the death penalty,” Del Toro said.

After the shooting, the FBI says Santiago told agents in a confession that he acted under government mind control, then claimed inspiration by Islamic State extremists. No terrorism links have been found.

The FBI says numerous airport security cameras recorded the shooting on video and there are dozens of witnesses who can identify Santiago as the shooter.

Santiago, a National Guard Iraq veteran, was treated at an Anchorage psychiatric hospital last year after he showed up at the local FBI office saying he was under CIA mind control and was hearing voices. He was released after a brief stay and given anti-anxiety medicine.

His gun, which had been confiscated by police during that time, was returned to him and was used a few weeks later in the Florida shooting.

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(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

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3 thoughts on “Death Penalty Won’t Be Sought In Florida Airport Shooting

  1. Tiana Nonbasic on said:

    Every mass killer must be crazy. He is ex-military like myself and the war can have a way of making people crazy. However this is a growing trend for all of these mass murders. Claim crazy??? I do not know if he is or not but if so he should live so he can riot in a cell and think about all the innocent lives he has taken.

    • African American Woman on said:

      I totally agree…if i was or knew someone who was a victim, I’d want him to spend the rest of his days doing hard time. This country does a woefully ineffective job of taking care of its military/veterans.

  2. Funny how when some folks commit heinous crimes-their defense is they are ‘MENTALLY UNSTABLE.”

    Is this a genetic trait of Caucasians?
    Santiago may be Hispanic, however, he could also pass.
    So we are to believe that he is crazy??????

    He shot and killed five innocent people in COLD BLOOD-YES HIS ASS DESERVES THE DAMN DEATH PENALTY.

    HELL NO HIS ASS AIN’T CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    If ANYBODY IN AMERYKAH THAT HAS THE RIGHT TO BE CRAZY IT SHOULD BE
    AFRICAN AMERICANS-DUE TO ALL OF THE UGLY S–T THIS COUNTRY IS STILL
    PUTTING US THROUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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