Who is the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting suspect?

Posted at 5:15 PM, Jan 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-06 22:43:47-05

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. —A law enforcement official says the Florida airport gunman told the FBI in November that the government was controlling his mind and was forcing him to watch Islamic State group videos.

The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation by name and spoke Friday on condition of anonymity.

The official says agents in Anchorage completed their interview with 26-year-old Esteban Santiago and called the police, who took him for a mental health evaluation.

The FBI's Anchorage field office said in a statement that it was aware Santiago was an Anchorage resident and that it was assisting in the investigation, but it declined to comment further.

A military spokesman said Esteban Santiago, 26, received a general discharge from the Alaska Army National Guard last year for unsatisfactory performance. He had also served in Iraq.

The brother of the man who has been tentatively named as the suspect in the shooting said the alleged gunman had been receiving psychological treatment while living in Alaska.

Bryan Santiago told The Associated Press that his family received a call in recent months from Esteban Santiago's girlfriend alerting them to the situation.

Bryan Santiago said he didn't know what his brother was being treated for and that they never talked about it over the phone.

He said Esteban Santiago was born in New Jersey but moved to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico when he was 2 years old. He said Esteban Santiago grew up in the southern coastal town of Penuelas and served with the island's National Guard for a couple of years.

He was deployed to Iraq in 2010 and spent a year there with the 130th Engineer Battalion, the 1013th engineer company out of Aguadilla, according to Puerto Rico National Guard spokesman Maj. Paul Dahlen.

Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said that the gunman was carrying a military ID that identified him as Esteban Santiago, but that it was unclear whether the ID was his. Nelson gave no further information on the suspect.

Sheriff Scott Israel said law enforcement did not fire any shots and took the shooter into custody unharmed.

A county official says the shooter had arrived on a flight from Canada with a gun in a checked bag -- and that after claiming the bag, he loaded the gun in a bathroom, pulled it out at the airport's terminal 2 and started shooting.

LaMarca had said the shooter was a passenger on a Canadian flight, but AirCanada said they have "no record of such a passenger by that name, or checked guns, on any of our flights to Fort Lauderdale."

A spokeswoman from the Canadian Embassy said the suspect has no connection to the country and did not fly to Florida from there.

Embassy spokeswoman Christine Constantin said in an email to The Associated Press that the suspect did not travel from Canada and was not on an Air Canada flight. She said the suspect has no connection to Canada.

Investigators are uncertain whether the shooting was an act of terror, the sheriff said.