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FBI: Gun Returned to Fla. Shooting Suspect Because He Was Not Legally Declared Mentally Ill

Image: FBI: Gun Returned to Fla. Shooting Suspect Because He Was Not Legally Declared Mentally Ill

 Esteban Santiago (Broward County Sheriff's Dept. via AP)

By    |   Saturday, 07 Jan 2017 06:36 PM

The suspect in the Florida airport shooting retrieved his gun from the FBI last month because he was not legally declared mentally ill after an examination caused by "making disjointed comments about mind control" to agents, law-enforcement officials said Saturday.

Esteban Santiago, 26, walked into the FBI office in Anchorage last Nov. 7 "to report that his mind was being controlled by U.S. Intelligence agencies," Marlin Ritzman, special agent in charge, told reporters in Alaska.

Santiago "appeared agitated, incoherent and made disjointed statements," Ritzman said.

"Although he stated he did not wish to harm anyone, as a result of his erratic behavior, our agents contacted local authorities."

Santiago had a loaded magazine on him — but he left a firearm in his vehicle, along with his newborn child, the agent said.

Anchorage police took Santiago to a local hospital for evaluation and investigated, but authorities found no wrongdoing or ties to terrorism, Ritzman said. The child was returned to its mother, who was Santiago's girlfriend.

"He was a walk-in complaint," Ritzman told reporters. "This is something that happens at FBI offices around the country every day.

"During our initial investigation, we found no ties to terrorism.

"He broke no laws when he came into our office, making disjointed comments about mind control," he said.

Authorities returned Santiago's gun on Dec. 8 because he was not legally declared mentally ill, he said.

Neither Ritzman nor Anchorage Police Chief Christopher Tolley would say whether the gun was used in Friday afternoon's attack at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

According to authorities, Santiago fatally shot five people and wounded eight others in Friday's rampage.

He checked a handgun in his luggage in Anchorage and then retrieved it at the Terminal 2 baggage claim in Florida, they said. The flight also stopped in Minneapolis. Santiago loaded the gun in a nearby bathroom before coming out and firing randomly at about 12:55 p.m., police said.

"There's currently no indication that Mr. Santiago was working with any other individuals when he planned and carried out yesterday's attack," Ritzman told reporters.

In Florida, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and hospital officials said Saturday that one of the shooting victims was expected to be released.

Six victims were brought to Broward Health Medical Center after the shooting. Three remained in intensive care. No further details were released.

Three of the victims who died were identified Saturday.

They were Olga Woltering, 84, of Georgia; Terry Andres, 62, of Virginia, and Michael Oehme, 57, of Nebraska.

In Anchorage, U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler that Santiago's weapon was released because he had not been "adjudicated mentally ill, which is a difficult standard."

Under federal law, therefore, "this is not somebody that would have been prohibited based on the information that they have.

"Law enforcement acted within the laws that they have," she said. "We're a country of laws and they operated within them."

Tolley said that Santiago had contact with Anchorage police six times last year, including November's FBI incident.

The others were domestic-related involving his girlfriend, he said. Santiago was arrested twice.

The investigation was continuing, authorities said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The suspect in the Florida airport shooting retrieved his gun from the FBI last month because he was not legally declared mentally ill after an examination caused by making disjointed comments about mind control to agents, law-enforcement officials said Saturday.Esteban...
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