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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The suspected gunman in a deadly attack at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport “lost his mind” after coming back home from a one-year tour in Iraq, family members told the media.

Esteban Santiago Ruiz, 26, in an undated photo. (Source: Twitter)

Esteban Santiago Ruiz, 26, in an undated photo. (Source: Twitter)

Investigators are now looking into what may have set off 26-year-old Esteban Santiago Ruiz into a shooting rampage that left five dead and six others wounded.

“Only thing I could tell you was when he came out of Iraq, he wasn’t feeling too good,” his uncle, Hernan Rivera, told the Bergen Record newspaper, as reported by The Associated Press.

Bryan Santiago, the suspect’s brother, said Esteban’s girlfriend had recently called the family to alert them to his treatment. Though, she didn’t provide many details.

“We have not talked for the past three weeks,” Bryan Santiago said. “That’s a bit unusual… I’m in shock. He was a serious person… he was a normal person.”

On Friday, Esteban Santiago took a flight from Alaska to Florida with a lay over stop in Minnesota. Somewhere along the way, he got into an argument with someone, officials said.

According to Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca, Santiago arrived in Fort Lauderdale with a gun that he checked in.

“He claimed his bag and took the gun from baggage and went into the bathroom to load it. Came out shooting people in baggage claim,” LaMarca said.

Passengers are legally allowed to travel with guns and ammunition as long as the firearms are unloaded, secured in a lock box and not brought on board the plane as a carry-on. They must be declared to the airline at check-in.

Earlier reports claimed Santiago came in on a flight from Canada. On the company’s Twitter account, Air Canada confirmed that no one by that name was on their flight.

Air Canada flights arrive to Terminal 2, where the shooting took place.

It was later determined that Santiago-Ruiz was on a Delta Air Lines flight.

Santiago was born to Puerto Rican parents in New Jersey and recently became a father of a baby boy.

His aunt, according to, said after a tour of duty in Iraq, he “lost his mind” and was hospitalized at one point for mental health issues.

The Pentagon said he went AWOL several times as a specialist during a stint with the Alaska National Guard and was demoted to private first class, the Associated Press reported. He was given a general discharge, which is lower than an honorable discharge.

The FBI said they were trying to confirm where he served.

Suspected Fort Lauderdale airport shooter Esteban Santiago displaying what's believed to be an ISIS gesture. (Source: Twitter)

Suspected Fort Lauderdale airport shooter Esteban Santiago displaying what’s believed to be an ISIS gesture. (Source: Twitter)

In November 2016, he walked into an FBI office in Anchorage claiming that he was being forced to fight for ISIS and was sent to a psychiatric hospital.

FBI spokesman George Piro confirmed he was evaluated by the FBI while living in Alaska.

“He did go to our office in Anchorage, but he did not want to commit harm,” the agent said. “He voluntarily entered our office and was interviewed by agents of the office. He was turned over to local custody and then taken to a local hospital.”

So far, Santiago has no known connection to terrorism, with the exception of this photo showing him wearing an Arabic keffiyeh and pointing a finger in the air – a symbol ISIL militants use.

However, the FBI has not ruled out anything.

“We have begun the difficult task of processing the crime scene,” said the FBI’s George Piro. “We have not ruled out terrorism and we will be perusing every angle to try to determine a motive behind this attack.”

About five years ago, he was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations for child porn. Three weapons and a computer were seized, but there was not enough evidence to prosecute, according to law enforcement sources.

Santiago also has a record for minor traffic violations and was evicted in 2015 for not paying rent.

He had been living in a modest apartment in Anchorage. His neighbor was in disbelief.

“He was always pleasant. Didn’t show any signs of no threats. Just always pleasant,” said Perette Carter. “He used to play with my niece and nephews. My brother talked to him. Always pleasant.”

Police were able to apprehend the alleged gunman without having to fire their own weapons when he apparently ran out of bullets. Witnesses said he threw down his firearm and laid on the floor with his hands and feet spread out wide.

He wasn’t hurt in the incident and no one else was taken into custody.

Written by James Amalino, CBSMiami.

Comments (88)
  1. Well, let’s see. Is he a Mulsim or is this a CIA false flag?

    1. queenicarius says:

      Other media has a picture of him making the Muslin salute.

  2. Another example of obama putting and keeping our country in harms way…

      1. John Oakman says:

        The fact that he is”fighting for isis” will never see the light of day in msm.

  3. Another hyphenated last name….they are always trouble!

  4. Why wasn’t he placed on the No Fly List?

    1. timefortrump says:

      My thoughts exactly – when he was put in a nut house because he said he was being forced to fight for ISIS why wasn’t he put on a no-fly list? What is the point of a no fly list if this guy wasn’t on it????

    2. riosam77 says:

      My question as well….the FBI didn’t think is admission to them was important enough to at least put the nutbag on the No Fly list? Incompetence reigns! 5 DEAD

  5. Ron Johnson says:

    Perfect – CIA – MKL Ultra indoctrinated ex military psycho killing innocent vacation travelers at EXACTLY the moment (1:00PM) that all the big bad boys of the Alphabet soup agencies are telling pres-elect Trump how bad Putin acted…… really sheeple!… let’s step back from all the coincidences today!!!!

  6. Is it strange of me to believe that, caught in a situation such as this, the only thing I am going to be dragging behind are my family, not my freaking bag…

  7. Bob Suyak says:

    From his blank look, he appears to be another disgruntled dem who can’t handle queen Hillary losing.

  8. And yet again…. ANOTHER mass shooter with “Mental Health Problems”.
    When are Leftists going to get it, it’s not the gun that needs fixing, it’s the Mental Health System and the elimination of “gun free zones”. What are we up to now, 95% of mass shooters having mental health issues?

    1. Wait what? You dont truly believe that the mentally ill should be allowed to possess guns do you? This was a crime of opportunity because he HAD easy access to a gun, not because he is some criminal mastermind who illegally got the gun. There is no reason the mentally ill should be armed, period.

  9. Of course no one else in the baggage area was armed because they were law abiding citizens and they could get into trouble. So much for gun free zones.

    1. The better question is why are the proven mentally ill allowed to legally own weapons. This is not some criminal mastermind who preplanned this by all accounts; it was a crime of opportunity. He happened to have the gun and got riled up or in an argument and used it. But for the mentally ill allowed to own guns this likely would not have happened; at the most been a fist fight.

      And the common rebuttal that oh they just would have gotten the gun illegally doesn’t work here as the mentally ill generally dont have the mental capacity to think that way, and it certainly would have stopped this target at least. It could have easily have happened in Alaska on his corner where there are more armed citizens; someone still would have gotten shot at the end of the day.

      The mentally ill should not own guns and once committed forfeit them. Period

    2. Dave Thrush says:

      Gun free zones are killing zones where people are like ducks at a carnival shooting gallery…the left will never, ever figure it out…never.

  10. Hey geniuses

    Just look up flights from MSP to FLL landing just before 1.

    Delta 2182


  11. Brent Bussey says:

    Why is this idiot still alive? he should have been killed in place. This is a war what do you not understand?

  12. How could he have an “active military ID,” if he had been in a psychiatric hospital, in Nov. and was investigated by Homeland Security? He said he was forced into fighting for ISIS, and they let him out of the hospital unsupervised?

  13. He went into a FBI office and said he was being forced to fight for ISIS, they sent him to a psychiatric hospital. How the hell was he able to check-in to an airport with a gun?

  14. Could just be rage at treatment in aircraft … tight seats, grumpy passengers, no leg room ….. 😀

  15. That happens when you have clueless blacks encharged.

    1. Su Yu says:

      Good enough for the Army and Natl Guard.

  16. We need to take his comment about being forced to fight for ISIS very seriously.

    There needs to be a thorough investigation of what’s going on in the middle east.

  17. Another patsey in a government psyop. Find a wackjob, use a CI to program him into an act and use it to increase your budget at a time when youmare under scrutiny by the new boss. Coincidence it happened during the Trump intel briefing? There are no coincidences.

  18. I get it that people want more info, but is it not time for journalists to be journalists and reporting facts as they know them minus the potential for political 3 pointers?

    The article stated that “Santiago also has a record for minor traffic violations and was evicted in 2015 for not paying rent.”


    The article also mentioned that he was investigated for child porn, and I have to ask… other than tarring and feather the guy, why would a “real news” outlet bring up petty, unrelated facts when they already have severe credibility issues? My request for journalists is simple… disconnect your personal axes to grind, vett your facts, keep it relevant, and make it your goal to present information without any consideration to the potential political fallout.

    If they can’t do that they are in fact making “fake news”, and we the people should hold their feet to the fire and demand more from those who have access to the megaphone of TV, radio and internet in the U.S., and take it away it from those who are bent on using their power to advance political causes rather than reporting the facts, unbiased and with the goal of informing the public; rather than trying to “steer” it to an outcome they would like.

  19. There is almost always a warning sign before one of these events, but, they are always ignored, usually by a government employee.,

  20. in other words our “vaunted security” agencies failed AGAIN!!!!. and we are supposed believe the Russians are coming?

  21. Sam Huston says:

    He has ISIS on his feeble mind, The FBI confirmed it.

  22. If he walked into an FBI building in Nov 2016 and told them he was being forced to work for ISIS, hows does he check in a firearm 2 months later?

  23. Rusty Harris says:

    Well, you KNOW what this means now, don’t you?
    Instead of going after nuts like this, now, you won’t even be able to pack your weapon in your suitcase.

  24. Stan Dupp says:

    Well . . . if he walked into an FBI office and told them he was “being forced to fight for ISIS” why wasn’t he sent straight to Guantanamo?

    And with the name of Santiago, why didn’t they issue a “Code Red”?

    1. Because they “Can’t Handle the Truth!”

  25. Joe Swartz says:

    January 20th 2017:
    The People of the USA will become stock holders in this great country again and say good bye to being subjects.

  26. Larry Pike says:

    Sadly we don’t take care of our Veterans as much as we should. There is a shortage of mental health facilities in many states and the VA has long lines and questionable care. Not pointing fingers or wanting to play Politics, but I do hope that Trump follows through on his promise to improve how we treat out Veterans. This could have easily been prevented

  27. Yet another criminal the Obama Regime approves. No vetting, no investigations, no law enforcement.

  28. Albert Evony says:

    Although a psycho… He is technically correct in saying that he was fighting for Obama’s military who in turn is fighting for ISIS.

    1. Albert Evony says:

      If you need an example of this… Look at how many bombs we dropped this year in the middle east and consider that we didn’t destroy a single ISIS controlled oil reserve.