Fort Lauderdale, Fla., airport shooter and military veteran Esteban Santiago is set to plead guilty on May 23 to the 2017 murders of five people, bargaining with prosecutors to avoid the death penalty.
Santiago’s case is being handled federally because he committed the crime in an international airport, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions worked with both prosecutors and Santiago’s public defender to reach a plea agreement, the Miami Herald reported. The family members of victims also agreed to pursue a life sentence in exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors claimed. Santiago was extremely mentally unstable and also confessed to the FBI that he carried out the shooting in the name of the Islamic State.
Santiago flew from Alaska to Florida on Jan. 7, 2017, checking his gun in a bag. Upon landing, he loaded it in the bathroom, and randomly executed his fellow passengers. The FBI revealed Santiago’s confession at his bond hearing soon after the shooting. Santiago also appeared to harbor delusions about being controlled by ISIS. He walked into an FBI field office in Alaska two months before the shooting and complained to agents that he was hearing voices telling him to join ISIS. He also complained that the CIA was forcing him to watch ISIS training videos.
Official ISIS media arms have not clarified whether they will accept Santiago’s confession.
Santiago reportedly spiraled out of control in the year leading up to the rampage. He had his guns confiscated by police twice and told his family he was hearing voices. Santiago is a U.S. army veteran who had been deployed to Iraq.
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