The Fort Lauderdale airport shooting suspect could face the death penalty

Airport chaos.
Airport chaos.
Image: Reuters/Zachary Fagenson
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Esteban Santiago, the 26-year-old National Guard veteran who is suspected of killing five people and injuring six in a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida could face the death penalty after federal prosecutors charged him on Jan. 7 with an act of violence at an international airport resulting in death.

“Today’s charges represent the gravity of the situation and reflect the commitment of federal, state and local law enforcement personnel to continually protect the community and prosecute those who target our residents and visitors,” said US attorney Wifredo Ferrer, the Associated Press reported.

Santiago, who was also handed a weapons charge, allegedly pulled out a 9mm semi-automatic gun from his checked bag at the airport’s baggage claim and started to shoot. According to the FBI, he had been planning the Jan. 6 attack, and bought a one-way ticket to Fort Lauderdale from his Alaska home. He’s had a history of mental health issues, some after his deployment in Iraq in 2010, Fox News reports. Officials have not ruled out terrorism as a motive for the shooting.

The federal death penalty is rare—since 1972, only three people have been executed. The last person to be put on federal death row was Boston bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev. Charleston shooter Dylann Roof is currently on trial in which he also faces capital punishment in a federal case.