by Vivian Chang, news editor
It seemed like a normal day for travelers at the Fort Lauderdale airport. That was until shots were fired in terminal 2 on January 6th.
Thousands of passengers fled to the airport tarmacs in a mass evacuation while others exited the airport as soon as possible. Shortly after shots were fired in terminal 2, there were reports of a second shooter in terminal 1.
That night, more than 12,000 passengers were taken to the nearby Port Everglades while airline companies continued to work on getting these stranded passengers home and returning more than 20,000 personal belongings that were left behind during the evacuation.
“I think the fact that shootings still happen in our world is a tragedy. So many innocent people lose their lives due to the fact that a handful of individuals cannot remain peaceful. Both my boyfriend and English teacher were at the airport at the time and it was scary how close the shooting was to home,“ Florida resident Eliana Blech said.
Suspect Esteban Santiago, 26, is currently in federal custody. Santiago, an army veteran, lives in Anchorage, Alaska and had just got off his connecting flight from Minneapolis. He got his luggage containing his weapon from the baggage claim area and proceeded to the airport restroom. He then loaded his gun, came out of the bathroom, and began to shoot.
Santiago’s uncle claims that Santiago came back as a different person after serving duties in Iraq. Neighbors say that it was a mixture of alcohol and possibly PTSD. Others say that it might’ve been because he suffers from seasonal affective disorder as a result of the lack of sunlight that Alaskans gets.
Santiago has also been evaluated by local mental institutions in Alaska after his claim that the “mind is being controlled by U.S. intelligence”. Authorities confiscated his gun, which was the same gun that was used in the shooting, but returned it to him after he was considered not mentally defective. He had encountered the Anchorage police at least five times between January and October of 2016.
“I think that this shooting isn’t just another statistic, it’s another story, another story that’s telling us where America is standing right now. It’s gonna affect the people heavily because now they’re gonna walk the streets not knowing if they got targets on their backs. It’s scary to be living in America now, too,” The Berkeley Carroll School junior Allen Li said.
So far, five deaths have been reported while six people are still recovering in a local Fort Lauderdale hospital. To see detailed descriptions of each victim, click here.
Santiago’s arraignment date is January 23rd. He is being charged with an act of violence in an international airport along with two firearm offenses and if convicted guilty, he will be sentenced to death. All the FBI currently knows is that Santiago “planned the attack” but are not aware of his motives yet. They believe his motives will become clearer as the investigation ensues. They have not ruled out terrorism as a motive.
Featured image in courtesy of TMZ.