SantiagoToldFBI Prior to Shooting That the Government Was Practicing Mind Control On Him
The bureau encountered the shooter, Esteban Santiago, during an unusual encounter in an FBI field office in Anchorage, Alaska, last November. Officials said Santiago walked into the office to tell agents that the government was trying to control his mind and force him to watch Islamic State videos. FBI agent George Piro said that the agents, concerned about Santiago’s “erratic behavior,” then contacted local police, who took him to a medical facility for a mental health evaluation.
Anchorage Police Chief Christopher Tolley told reporters on Saturday that Santiago reported at the time that he was having “terroristic thoughts” and believed he was being influenced by the Islamic State militant group.
Gun Involved In Shooting Had Been Previously Confiscated
The Army veteran’s rambling walk-in interview at the Anchorage FBI office was concerning enough for authorities to take away his gun and order a mental health evaluation. However, it wasn’t enough to get Santiago mentally adjudicated, which would have prohibited him from owning a firearm.
Santiago got the gun back a month later when he retrieved the pistol from police headquarters. It was that weapon, law enforcement sources told CNN, that he used in the airport attack.
Family Said He Was Not the Same After Returning from War In Iraq
Santiago served from 2007 to 2016 in the Puerto Rico and Alaska National Guards, including a deployment to Iraq from 2010 to 2011, according to the Pentagon. Relatives said he has acted erratically since returning home from Iraq.
The suspect’s brother, Bryan Santiago, said he believed the shooting rampage was the result of mental issues that had surfaced after his time in Iraq. His aunt told CNN Santiago returned from the Middle East a changed man.
“His mind was not right,” Maria Ruiz Rivera said. “He seemed normal at times, but other times, he seemed lost. He changed.
“He talked about all the destruction and the killing of children. He had visions all the time.”
Santiago requested medical help from Army and federal agencies, according to his brother, and received some treatment. Bryan Santiago said he used to speak with his brother regularly, but the communication ceased about a month ago.
Santiago Was Aiming for Heads
The 26-year-old Iraq war veteran is accused of killing five people. Six people were wounded by gunshots during the attack, and three dozen others suffered minor injuries as frantic passengers and airport workers fled the chaotic scene.
Authorities say Santiago arrived on a connecting flight from Alaska and retrieved a 9mm semi-automatic handgun from his checked luggage before loading it in a bathroom.
He then returned to the baggage claim area and walked “while shooting in a methodical manner” 10 to 15 times, aiming at his victims’ heads, according to the criminal complaint.
Although Facing Death-Penalty Charges, State May Not Execute Him If Convicted
“They’ve then got two weeks to indict him, and then they’ve got to go through the whole death-penalty review,” said former federal prosecutor David Weinstein, a partner with Miami law firm Clarke Silverglate.
Santiago could face the death penalty if convicted on charges, which include carrying out violence at an airport and killing with a firearm. However, it may be months before prosecutors reveal whether they will seek the death penalty.
Executions have been on hold in Florida since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state’s death-penalty law a year ago. The Florida Supreme Court overturned a rewritten version of the law in October.
FBI Agent Who Interrogated Saddam Hussein Is Leading the Investigation
The FBI agent who interrogated Saddam Hussein alone for months after the former Iraqi leader’s capture is now leading the investigation into the Florida airport shooting rampage.
George Piro, Special Agent in charge of the FBI’s Miami field office, was Hussein’s sole interrogator beginning in January 2004. In previous interviews, Piro said Hussein did not know his true identity and that he posed as a high-level envoy who answered directly to George W. Bush. Piro said he met daily with the deposed Iraqui leader in a windowless room and worked to gain his trust by becoming his only provider of necessities and such things as paper to write poetry on, theAssociated Pressreported.
Piro said Hussein eventually confirmed that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction prior to the U.S. invasion.
Shooting Sparked Debate About a Correlation Between Military Vets and Mass Shootings
Veterans account for 13 percent of the adult population, but more than a third of the adult perpetrators of the 43 worst mass killings since 1984 have served in the United States military, according to The New York Times.
The list of other mass killers with military backgrounds is impressively long as well: George Jo Hennard, who killed 22 in Killeen, Texas, in 1991 served in the Navy; Michael McDermott, who shot seven people in Wakefield, Massachusetts back in 2000, also served in the Navy; and Robert Flores, who gunned down his three nursing professors in Tucson, Arizona, in 2002 was a veteran of the Persian Gulf War, Sapiens.org reported.
Missing from the timeline, however, is the fact that correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation. For instance, mass shooters are nearly all men, and 24 percent of U.S. men are veterans.