US investigators search for motive after fatal Florida airport shooting | News | DW | 07.01.2017
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US investigators search for motive after fatal Florida airport shooting

A 26-year-old suspect is being questioned by police after killing five people at Fort Lauderdale airport. Esteban Santiago, an Iraq war veteran, had reportedly been receiving psychological​ treatment.

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Florida: 'Lone shooter' kills several people at airport

US authorities said on Saturday that all possibilities would be pursued in order to determine the motive behind the deadly shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The 26-year-old suspect, Esteban Santiago, was immediately taken into custody on Friday after opening fire at the baggage claim area of Terminal 2, killing five people and wounding another eight.

Authorities received the first call about the shooting at around 12:55 p.m. local time (1755 UTC).

George Piro, the special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's office in Miami, said the suspect was undergoing questioning.

"We are looking at all avenues," Piro said. "We have not ruled out terrorism, and we will be pursuing every angle to try to determine the motive behind this attack."

USA Florida - George Piro vom FBI gibt Pressekonferenz nachdem Schütze am Flughafen mehrere Menschen verletzte (picture-alliance/ZUMAPRESS/A. Eyestone)

FBI special agent George Piro said investigators have 'not ruled out terrorism'

Suspect received psychological treatment

Jesse Davis, chief of police at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska, said Santiago had flown out of Anchorage, Alaska, on a 9:52 p.m. Delta flight on Thursday, and that a firearm was his only piece of checked luggage.

After collecting his luggage in Florida, Santiago reportedly loaded the semi-automatic gun in the bathroom before proceeding to open fire. According to witnesses, Santiago surrendered to police after running out of ammunition.

US media reported that the decorated Iraq war veteran had received a general discharge from the Alaska National Guard for unsatisfactory performance.

In November, Santiago turned up at an FBI office in his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, claiming that the government was "controlling his mind" and was forcing him to watch so-called "Islamic State" (IS) videos.  

The 26-year-old's brother, Bryan Santiago, said the suspect had also been receiving psychological treatment while living in Alaska.

Passengers at Fort Lauderdale airport

US authorities have said Fort Lauderdale airport has 'closed and will be for an extended period of time'

Spotlight on US gun laws

US President Barack Obama said Friday he was "heartbroken" for the families of the victims of the deadly shooting.

Under the rules of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), passengers are prohibited from carrying firearms in hand luggage but are allowed to check guns as luggage if they are unloaded, stowed in a hard-sided, locked container that only the owner is able to unlock, and then placed in a checked bag. Ammunition is also permitted only in checked luggage.

Friday's attack was just the latest in a string of fatal shootings in the US in recent years. Many of the perpetrators have acted alone, while investigations have often found that they were mentally disturbed or in some cases claimed they were inspired by jihadi militant groups such as IS.

Last year, Florida fell victim to the worst mass shooting in recent US history when a lone gunman, Omar Mateen, ran amok in a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and injuring more than 50 others.

The shootings have reignited bitter political feuds over immigration, counterterrorism and gun control, with many US lawmakers unwilling to adopt tough firearm legislation.

The Gun Violence Archive, a US-based nonprofit organization, listed the airport shooting as the sixth mass shooting to occur in the United States in 2017.

ksb/sms (AP, Reuters)

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