Esteban Santiago, who was arrested on charges of killing 5 people and injuring 6 more when he carried out a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport, said he committed the attack on behalf of ISIS, according to FBI special agent Michael Ferlazzo.
Ferlazzo and other agents testified at Santiago’s bond hearing on Tuesday, and Ferlazzo said Santiago had claimed to work for ISIS and to have spoken to other jihadis in ISIS-inspired chatrooms and websites.
Ferlazzo did not specify whether Santiago claimed he was working for ISIS, or if he’d been influenced by their work, according to CNN.
The suspect said after the shooting that his mind was under some form of government control, Ferlazzo testified.
The current charges against Santiago include: using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; performing an act of violence against a person at an airport serving international civil aviation that caused serious bodily injury; and causing the death of a person through the use of a firearm.
Santiago had been on the FBI’s radar for some time before the attack in Fort Lauderdale. FBI spokesman George Piro said that Santiago walked into an FBI office in Anchorage, Alaska in November 2016 and told authorities that voices in his head were telling him to join ISIS.
Santiago was taken into custody at the time, admitted to a facility for medical evaluation, and given anti-anxiety medications, according to the Associated Press.
He was released from the facility after five days without any restrictions that might prevent him from buying or owning a firearm.
The 9mm handgun that Santiago checked into his baggage and used to carry out the shooting was the same one that police in Anchorage had seized and later returned to the suspect, Ferlazzo said.
Authorities claim that Santiago confessed to the shooting. He could receive the death penalty for the last two charges against him and a maximum of life in prison for the first. At the hearing on Tuesday, Assistant US District Attorney Rick Del Toro said it was clear from Santiago’s shooting spree that he was a flight risk and a danger to the community.
Santiago’s attorney, Robert Berube, did not refute the claim and said that his defendant was prepared to be detained throughout the trial, according to CNN.
Judge Lurana Snow ruled that Santiago be held without bond. His next hearing is on Jan. 30.
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