Accused FLL Gunman Declared Mentally Competent, to Plead Guilty Next Week

What to Know

  • Officials said 28-year-old Esteban Santiago of Anchorage, Alaska, will agree to a life sentence.
  • Since his arrest, Santiago had been treated at a Miami jail for schizophrenia.

Esteban Santiago, the accused gunman of the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting in which six died, has been declared mentally competent and will likely plead guilty next week.

A court document said that Santiago and his defense team, as well as U.S. prosecutors, agreed with the mental competency conclusion.

"The psychologist who evaluated the defendant concluded that he is competent to proceed with his case," the document reads.

The document further states that Santiago will enter his plea at an upcoming May 23 hearing.

Santiago, 28, of Anchorage, Alaska, is charged in a 22-count indictment in the January 2017 shooting in a baggage claim area at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Trial had been set to begin June 11.

According to the indictment, Santiago flew on a one-way ticket from Alaska to Fort Lauderdale with a 9 mm handgun in a box he put in checked luggage. After landing he retrieved the weapon, loaded it in a bathroom and came out firing randomly until he exhausted his ammunition.

The FBI says numerous airport security cameras recorded the shooting on video and there are dozens of witnesses who can identify Santiago as the shooter.

Santiago, a National Guard Iraq veteran, was treated at an Anchorage psychiatric hospital last year after he showed up at the local FBI office saying he was under CIA mind control and was hearing voices. He was released after a brief stay and given anti-anxiety medicine.

His gun, which had been confiscated by police during that time, was returned to him and was used a few weeks later in the Florida shooting.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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