Fort Lauderdale airport shooter charged, could face death penalty

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Five people died and eight others were injured Friday at Florida's Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after a man opened fire on people in a baggage claim, airport officials and Broward County sheriff's deputies confirmed.

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The gunman, who has been tentatively identified as 26-year-old Esteban Ruiz Santiago, was apprehended without incident after authorities were called to the Terminal 2 baggage claim around 1 p.m., Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference.

"He's unharmed," Israel said. "No law enforcement (officers) fired any shots."

Santiago served in Iraq with the National Guard but was demoted and discharged last year for unsatisfactory performance, according to The Associated Press. He was charged Saturday with committing an act of violence at an international airport resulting in death and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said he wanted to know Saturday how Esteban Santiago, 26, who had been taken for a mental evaluation by law enforcement in November, could have legally owned a gun.

"A conversation that needs to happen, certainly, is we need to talk about, as a country going forward … you know, people suffering from mental illness," Israel said, according to WFTV.

Authorities have not identified the victims of the attack, citing the need to notify immediately family members.

Witnesses, including former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, started sharing information on social media shortly after shots were fired.

Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief characterized the attacker as a "lone shooter" and said authorities did not immediately know the motive behind the attack.

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