FBI Cites Signs That Suspect Went to Fort Lauderdale ‘To Carry Out This Attack’

iStock/Thinkstock(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) -- The suspected gunman who opened fire in a airport baggage claim area on Friday, killing five people and wounding eight, may have flown into Fort Lauderdale to carry out the mass shooting, the FBI said today.

"There are indications that he came here to carry out this attack," George Piro, special agent in chart of the FBI's Miami field office said at a press conference Saturday morning.

Suspect Esteban Santiago, who is in law enforcement custody, flew from Anchorage, Alaska, to Minneapolis, where he changed planes for Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The FBI said earlier that it was unclear why Santiago made the trip and that it has not ruled out any motive, including terrorism.

Authorities said Santiago did not try to take any hostages during the incident, nor did he make any statements while firing off a semi-automatic handgun.

Santiago had voluntarily visited the FBI office in Anchorage in November, authorities said. He stated he did not want to harm anyone, but his behavior prompted them to turn him over to local police, who took him to a hospital for a mental health evaluation. After a series of checks, the case was closed, Piro said.

The suspect was booked overnight into the Broward County Jail and is being held for murder, according to the Broward County Sheriff's Office's website.

Officials have yet to identify the victims in the shooting Friday afternoon in the baggage claim area of the airport's Terminal 2..

In addition to the five who were killed and the eight hospitalized, another 30 to 40 individuals were sent to area hospitals for other injuries, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a press conference late Friday night. The condition of the wounded and the others who went to hospitals is unclear.

 Santiago's booking record on the website includes his booking photo. The record's charge information section includes the notes "hold for US Marshals Office" and "pending trial." He was spotted Friday night being transported to Broward County Main Jail.

The Army veteran is described as a 5-foot-8-inches tall, 135-pound Hispanic male born on March 16, 1990.

 Israel said Santiago, 26, has been interviewed by the FBI and the Broward County Sheriff's Office.

Santiago will also face federal charges and will likely make his first court appearance on Monday, FBI Special Agent in Charge George Piro said at the press conference.

 The entire airport was closed to departing and arriving flights following the shooting. Cargo and general aviation (private small planes, corporate jets) operations resumed at midnight.

Commercial flights slowly started to resume at 5 a.m. Saturday, but the airport said flights may still be canceled or delayed.

Terminal 2 will remain closed until further notice, the airport's committee outreach coordinator, Allan Siegel, told ABC News early Saturday morning.

Siegel said the two airlines that fly out of Terminal 2 -- Delta Airlines and Air Canada -- will operate from other terminals.


The airport tweeted early Saturday morning that it is "collecting and processing over 20,000 bags/personal items left from the evacuation. This is a time consuming and complex process."

Hundreds of passengers who spent the night at nearby Port Everglades will be brought back on buses Saturday to the airport to catch their flights. The Red Cross provided bedding, food and water for the displaced passengers.


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