January 06, 2017 The suspected gunman in Friday afternoon’s deadly attack at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport was known to the FBI in Anchorage, Alaska. In November, 2016, he told FBI agents he was being forced to fight for the Islamic State or ISIS.
Law enforcement officials say Esteban Santiago,, 26, of New Jersey shot thirteen people, killing five and injuring eight others–some critically. According to federal investigators, Esteban Santiago flew from Anchorage to Minneapolis, Minnesota, before traveling on to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on a Delta flight that landed Friday afternoon around 1 p.m. Santiago had a checked bag containing a firearm. After he picked up the bag at the Terminal 2 baggage claim area, he went into the men’s room, where investigators believe he loaded the gun before returning to the baggage claim area and opened fire, striking victims at random.
CBS News in Miami reports that a law enforcement official said that in November, 2016, the suspected gunman walked into an FBI office in Anchorage, AK claiming he was being forced to fight for ISIS but was sent to a psychiatric hospital. Ruiz had an active military ID for the U.S. Army. The Independent Journal Review reports that he joined the Puerto Rico National Guard in 2007, and he was deployed to Iraq in 2010. Ruiz received a general discharge in August of 2016.
Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, airport security has been a priority for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Transportation Security Agency (TSA), housed in the Department of Homeland Security has been controversial since it’s inception. TSA officials tout several layers of airport security — both the seen and unseen counter-terrorism efforts. Critics argue that after billions of tax payer dollars allocated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the TSA has not prevented a single terrorist attack. In November 2013, a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport that killed a TSA officer at a security checkpoint and wounding two others exposed the gaping holes in airport security more than twelve years after the 9/11 attacks.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is the second largest in South Florida, and serves as an intercontinental gateway, with Miami International Airport known as the primary airport for international flights in the area. Regardless of the motive for the attack, the incident demonstrates how lax airport security in America remains.
Check back for details on the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport shooting.
Cynthia Hodges holds a M.A. in Political Science from NEIU in Chicago, Illinois and a Post-Grad Professional Certificate in Disaster and Terrorism Management from University of North Carolina -Chapel Hill. In addition to a successful writing career, Cynthia is in the process of writing a book on the role of private security guards as first responders in the post 9/11 America. "My career has been a balance of security and education, and my passion for Homeland Security while protecting individual's Constitutional rights has grown as a result of the two."