Weapon was re­turned to air­port gun­man

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

FORT LAUD­ERDALE Po­lice in Alaska took a hand­gun from the man ac­cused of killing five peo­ple at Fort Laud­erdale’s air­port on Fri­day, but they re­turned it to him last month after a med­i­cal eval­u­a­tion found he was not men­tally ill, au­thor­i­ties said.

Este­ban San­ti­ago, a 26-year-old Iraq war vet­eran, had a his­tory of act­ing er­rat­i­cally and in­ves­ti­ga­tors are prob­ing whether men­tal ill­ness played a role in the lat­est US mass shooting. Ac­cord­ing to court pa­pers, he told agents he planned the at­tack and bought a one-way ticket to Florida.

San­ti­ago was charged on Satur­day in fed­eral court and could po­ten­tially face the death penalty if con­victed in the case, pros­e­cu­tors said.

Mar­lin Ritz­man, a spe­cial agent in charge of the Fed­eral Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion’s of­fice in An­chor­age, told a news con­fer­ence San­ti­ago walked into the of­fice in Novem­ber and said his mind was be­ing con­trolled by a US in­tel­li­gence agency. He was turned over to lo­cal po­lice, who took him to a med­i­cal fa­cil­ity for a men­tal eval­u­a­tion.

“San­ti­ago was hav­ing ter­ror­is­tic thoughts and be­lieved he was be­ing in­flu­enced by ISIS (the Is­lamic State mil­i­tant group),” An­chor­age Po­lice Chief Chris Tol­ley told the news con­fer­ence.

A hand­gun po­lice took from San­ti­ago dur­ing the eval­u­a­tion was re­turned to him early last month, Tol­ley said. The po­lice chief said it was not clear if it was the same weapon that was used on Fri­day.

Of­fi­cials in An­chor­age said the gun was re­turned be­cause San­ti­ago had not been judged to be men­tally ill. “As far as I know, this is not some­body who would have been pro­hib­ited (from hav­ing a gun) based on the in­for­ma­tion they had,” US At­tor­ney Karen Lo­ef­fler told the news con­fer­ence.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors said they have not ruled out ter­ror­ism as a mo­tive and that the sus­pect’s re­cent travel is be­ing re­viewed.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors charged San­ti­ago with car­ry­ing out vi­o­lence at an air­port, caus­ing se­ri­ous bod­ily in­jury, us­ing a firearm dur­ing a crime of vi­o­lence and caus­ing death to a per­son through the use of a firearm. He will ap­pear in court in Fort Laud­erdale today.

Five peo­ple were killed and six wounded in the ram­page, while about three dozen were taken to hos­pi­tals with bruises or bro­ken bones suf­fered in the chaos as pas­sen­gers fled the crowded bag­gage claim area. – Reuters

San­ti­ago was hav­ing ter­ror­is­tic thoughts and be­lieved he was be­ing in­flu­enced by ISIS Po­lice Chief ChrisTol­ley

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.