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FBI: Florida Rampage Suspect Had Mental Health Exam Last Year Over 'Erratic Behavior'

FBI: Florida Rampage Suspect Had Mental Health Exam Last Year Over 'Erratic Behavior'

Police patrol the terminals at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after Friday's shooting. (AP)

By    |   Friday, 06 January 2017 11:23 PM

A 26-year-old man arrested in a shooting rampage that killed five people and injured eight others at a Florida airport received mental-health evaluation in November after Alaska FBI agents noticed his "erratic behavior" when he came in to talk to them, authorities said late Friday.

The suspect, Esteban Santiago, "did walk into the Anchorage office in November," FBI Special Agent in Charge George Piro told reporters at a news conference at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. "Voluntarily walked into our office and was interviewed by agents in that office.

"He clearly stated that he did not intend to harm anyone, however, his erratic behavior concerned FBI agents interviewing him.

"They contacted local police and turned him over to them," Piro said.

Santiago was then "taken into custody by the local police and transported to medical facility for a mental-health evaluation.

"We looked at his contacts, did our intra-agency checks — and at that point we closed our assessment," he said.

Santiago, who had traveled from Anchorage to Minneapolis before arriving in Fort Lauderdale, was being held in federal custody on Friday.

He is expected to face federal charges when he is arraigned on Monday, Piro said.

Santiago was a member of the U.S. Army National Guard, according to news reports, and Piro said that authorities were investigation the specifics of his military service.

About 12:55 p.m., Santiago opened fire in the airport's lower-level baggage claim area of Terminal 2, Broward County Sheriff Scott Isabel said.

He checked a handgun in his luggage — Piro only described it as a "semi-auto handgun" — and then retrieved it at the baggage claim.

Santiago loaded the weapon inside a bathroom before returning to the terminal and randomly firing shots.

"He retrieved a firearm and began indiscriminately shooting," Isabel said. "This cowardly heinous act resulted in the deaths of five people."

Eight others were taken to local hospitals — and "at least 30 to 40 more people went to the hospitals for various injuries — falling, contusions, broken bones and sprains," the sheriff said.

Santiago was arrested by Broward sheriff's deputies without incident, Isabel said.

None of the victims were identified.

The investigation was continuing, Piro said, but authorities are not ruling out terrorism as a motive.

"We're conducting investigation not only here in South Florida but in several other states, as we try to pursue the suspect's activities leading up to today's horrific incident," he said.

"We are looking at all avenues — not ruling out terrorism and pursuing every angle to try to determine the motive behind this attack."

Mark Gale, airport director, said that officials planned to reopen Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International at 5 a.m. on Saturday.

"Clearly, this incident has caused a lot of disruption in their individual schedules and other schedules around the country," he said. "We encourage everybody to contact their airlines."

President-elect Donald Trump condemned the attack, telling The Associated Press that it's a "disgraceful situation that's happening in our country and throughout the world.

"It's a very different place we're living in."

Trump would not say whether he believes the shooting was a terrorist attack. "We're going to see very soon," he said.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that the shooting was "a senseless act of evil" and vowed that "we are going to hold whoever did this accountable.

"The citizens of Florida will not tolerate senseless acts of evil."

President Barack Obama said that he was "heartbroken" for the families of the victims.

"I don't want to comment on it other than just to say how heartbroken we are for the families who've been affected," Obama told George Stephanopoulos in an interview to be aired Sunday on "This Week" on ABC News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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A 26-year-old man arrested in a shooting rampage that killed five people and injured eight others at a Florida airport received mental-health evaluation in November after Alaska FBI agents noticed his "erratic behavior" when he came in to talk to them, authorities said late Friday.
florida, airport, shooting, suspect, fbi
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2017-23-06
Friday, 06 January 2017 11:23 PM
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