Ft. Lauderdale Airport Shooting Again Highlights Mental Health

Mattylynn Dusharm and Dylan Fairooz

On Friday, January 6th, a gunman allegedly shot and killed five people in an airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The gunman was soon reported as Esteban Santiago, 26 years old, a veteran of the Iraq war.

The victims from this traumatic shooting were Terry Andres, Shirley Timmons, Olga Woltering, Mary Louise Amzibel and Michael Oehme.

As shown in a security video on CNN, he was walking through the baggage claim when he is seen pulling a 9mm handgun from the waistband of his pants.

Soon then did he begin firing, what he later said he thought was fifteen bullets, aiming at victims’ heads.

NBC News  says that Santiago then later confessed to planning on the assault that killed five people and critically injured six. And that he walked around more than one airport with the handgun and two magazines. Since the shooting they have spoken to about 175 witnesses saying that Santiago had traveled to other airports before the attack.

CNN says that investigators are examining some of his online writing, showing some evidence that he did in fact have this attack somewhat planned out.

One of Santiago’s ex-girlfriends told CNN that he hadn’t been the same after his latest deployment where he witnessed  two of his close friends die in front of him during the Iraq war.

Based on his mental health this leads to the investigators wondering how and where he got the gun. CNN stated that he had it taken from him two months earlier by authorities in Alaska, after going the police and telling them that he had been hearing voices from ISIS, and was being mind-controlled by the CIA.

After they gave him a mental health evaluation, five days in hospital, health officials there said that he didn’t seem mentally defective…and the police returned his gun.

After all of the chaos in the airport Santiago was now taken to court where he is possibly facing the death penalty for murder, as well as many other federal charges, such as using and carrying a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

There’s a lot to expect at the first hearing that’s going to take place in the court. Judge Alicia Valle is going to have many questions for Santiago and see if he fully understands all the charges he has received and find out if he’d like to have an attorney or not. A grand jury indictment is always charged to the defendant unless they get a right. Nothing else will happen to Santiago, but he will be held in prison without receiving any bail.

A death sentence is always a possibility when it comes to extreme crimes like this one. A Judge gets to decide whether to pursue this punishment or not. Even if it’s out of the question and is seen as to harsh or what not the judge gets to decide how long he gets to stay in prison, whether it’s 20 years or even a lifetime.

However, when it comes to this crime, mental illness is something Santiago’s attorney can look into if he finds it necessary. He can get a mental check up to see if he’s even fit to pursue the trial he is in. But he is charged with five first-degree murders, and Florida’s death penalty can definitely be considered.

The background that Santiago has, you never he would have pulled any crime like this in general. Because he was discharged from the National Guard four months ago. In all he served roughly six years in the service including combat that was going on in Iraq. That just goes to show mental illness can come from someone you least expect it, and you never know what’s going to happen anywhere, at anytime.