26-Year-Old Florida Airport Shooter Had Domestic Violence History With 40-Year-Old Girlfriend But Was Still Allowed To Own A Gun.
The Florida airport gunman was being prosecuted for breaking through a locked bathroom door to strangle and hit his girlfriend, 40, but was still allowed to own a gun.
Esteban Santiago, 26, of Anchorage, Alaska, allegedly opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale baggage claim on Friday, killing five people and wounding eight others.
Almost a year before the mass shooting Santiago was accused of attacking his then-girlfriend, a 40-year old, mom-of-one.
Santiago’s girlfriend had been in the bathroom when she says he began yelling at her.
Santiago began ‘strangling’ his girlfriend and ‘smacking her in the side of the head’, according to court documents obtained by Heavy.
By the time police arrived, Santiago had fled the scene.
The Iraq war veteran was arrested a few days later and released on deferred prosecution status – where prosecutors agreed to dismiss the charges in exchange for Esteban’s completion of certain conditions which included that he did not contact his girlfriend.
That case is still pending and is due back in court this coming March.
His Anchorage attorney, Max Holmquist, declined to discuss his client.
Law enforcement sources also told CBS News that Santiago was investigated for child porn at some point between 2011 or 2012. Three weapons and a computer were seized, but no charges were filed, sources said.
Santiago served in the U.S. military for several years, according to the Department of Defense records.
He first joined the Puerto Rico Army National Guard in 2007 and was deployed to Iraq in April 2010 as a combat engineer.
He returned from service in early 2011 and in November 2014, after moving to Alaska, he joined the Alaska National Guard.
Santiago reportedly went AWOL several times before he was forced to leave.
Bryan Santiago said that his troubled brother believed he was being chased and controlled by the CIA.
‘I told him to go to church or to seek professional help,’ he said.
FBI agents took Santiago’s gun off him when he went into an Alaska field office in November to say the government was controlling his mind and forcing him to watch Islamic State group videos, authorities said.
But it was returned to him just a month later, and law enforcement will not reveal why. Sources told CNN he used the same weapon in the airport attack.
The alleged shooter was also left off all the no-fly lists and was allowed to check in his gun before Friday’s attack.
Santiago could face the death penalty if convicted for the mass shooting at Fort Lauderdale.
Investigators are combing through social media and other information to determine Santiago’s motive, and it’s too early to say whether terrorism played a role, Piro said.
Family members have said Santiago changed after serving a yearlong tour in Iraq. He was born in New Jersey but moved to Puerto Rico when he was 2, his brother said. He grew up in Penuelas before joining the Guard in 2007.
He deployed in 2010 as part of the Puerto Rico National Guard, spending a year with an engineering battalion, according to Guard spokesman Major Paul Dahlen.
Esteban Santiago’s mother wiped tears from her eyes as she stood inside a screen door Saturday. She said her son had been tremendously affected by seeing a bomb explode near two friends while serving in Iraq.
While it is unclear if Esteban Santiago had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, as many as one in five veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan develop the affliction each year, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
A 2014 Veterans Affairs study found that almost 30 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who sought treatment at VA hospitals were diagnosed with PTSD symptoms.
His uncle and aunt in New Jersey were trying to make sense of what they were hearing about Santiago. FBI agents arrived at their house to question them on Friday.
Maria Ruiz told The Record newspaper that her nephew had recently become a father to a son and was struggling.
Santiago was flying from Anchorage on a Delta flight and had checked only one piece of luggage, which contained the gun.
Senator-elect Nelson Cruz, who knew the family and represents the town where they live in Puerto Rico, said he had been talking regularly with Bryan Santiago since the shooting.
‘They’re very humble and very Christian people,’ Cruz said. ‘They want to tell the families of the victims that they’re extremely saddened and extremely upset by what happened.’
By Hannah Parry For Dailymail.com