Florida airport reopens after 5 shot dead

MIAMI: Florida’s Fort Lauderdale International Airport was open again on Saturday after a shooting rampage by an Iraq war veteran that killed five people, wounded eight, and sent thousands scrambling for safety.
Police identified the suspect as 26-year-old Esteban Santiago, who was in custody and being questioned by the FBI over the shooting that shut down the airport, a major gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America.
Santiago, who earlier complained that the CIA was forcing him to watch IS militant videos, allegedly opened fire randomly with a semi-automatic handgun on Friday shortly before 1:00 pm (1800 GMT) in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2.
The Fort Lauderdale airport announced at 5:00 am (1000 GMT) on Saturday via Twitter that they were again open for business, but urged passengers to check with their airlines.
Witness John Schlicher told Fox News that he was picking up his first bag as he “heard the first shot. As I did, the person right next to me fell to the ground… It was very surreal.”
The shooter “was holding a handgun. He was firing into the crowd. Everyone was standing there waiting for the luggage,” he said.
Santiago had travelled from Alaska to Fort Lauderdale, with a stopover in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the special agent in charge of Miami’s FBI field office, George Piro, told reporters late on Friday.
“We’re looking at several investigative leads not only in Alaska but other states that we have determined that he’s either travelled to or has connections there,” Piro said.
The suspect had a gun inside his checked luggage, after declaring the weapon with airport authorities, and then used it in the shooting rampage, law enforcement sources told US media.
Santiago was detained without law enforcement firing any shots, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters.
Piro said authorities were “looking at every angle, including the terrorism angle,” but that it would take time to determine the nature of the attack.
In November, Santiago had walked into the FBI’s Anchorage office exhibiting “erratic behaviour” that led agents to contact local police, who took him to a medical facility for a mental health evaluation, Piro said.
Santiago claimed he was being forced to fight for the IS group and that the CIA was controlling his mind to make him watch IS videos, several US outlets reported, citing unnamed law enforcement officials.
Santiago, who was born in New Jersey and raised in Puerto Rico, is a former member of the Puerto Rico and Alaska National Guard. He served in Iraq from April 2010 to February 2011, and ended his service in August.
Santiago only reached the rank of private first class and was given a general discharge for unsatisfactory performance, ABC News reported.
— AFP