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Shooter at Florida Airport Was Being Prosecuted for Allegedly Strangling His Girlfriend in Alaska

In the wake of the shooting that left five people dead and at least six others injured in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on Friday, more information is coming out about the shooter’s alleged criminal history.

The shooter, identified as  26-year-old Esteban Santiago, was being prosecuted for allegedly strangling and hitting his girlfriend last year, according to court documents filed in Anchorage, Alaska, where he lived. In January 2016, Santiago allegedly had an argument with his girlfriend and “was yelling at her while she was in the bathroom on the toilet,” according to a police report filed with the court documents.

According to the police report filed with the court documents, Santiago allegedly forced his way into the bathroom and yelled, “Get the f–k out bitch” while “strangling  and smacking her in the side of the head.”

Santiago was arrested and released soon after, under the condition that he could not have any contact with his girlfriend. His charges included two misdemeanors: one assault charge and another for criminal mischief for damaging property, according to case records.

But a February 2016 document revealed that Santiago had broken the terms of his release and he admitted that he had visited the victim’s home, according to court documents.

However, the assault portion of the case was resolved in March 2016 when Santiago entered into a deferred prosecution agreement. According to The Daily Beast, this means prosecutors agreed to dismiss the charges in exchange for Santiago’s completion of requirements, the details of which are unknown. The other criminal mischief charge for damaging the victim’s door is still pending. Santiago was scheduled to appear in court for that charge in March of this year.

PEOPLE reached out to Santiago’s lawyers but they were not immediately available for comment.

In a press conference on Saturday, authorities in Anchorage confirmed Santiago’s previous contact with the police, including his current investigation for “criminal mischief.”

Telemundo and NorthJersey.com spoke with Santiago’s aunt, Maria Luisa Ruiz, who said that the shooter had changed after he served a tour in Iraq with the National Guard. (According to various reports, Santiago had claimed that he had been “hearing voices.”)

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“He had a baby,” Ruiz told Telemundo, noting that Santiago lived in Alaska. “He had a baby over there who is about 3 months old. Baby was born in September.”

And in both interviews, Ruiz said her nephew had been hospitalized, but could not confirm any details about the reasons for his treatment. She also told Telemundo that after he left Iraq, “he wasn’t right.”

“Like a month ago, it was like he lost his mind,” Ruiz told NewJersey.com. “He said he saw things.”

In a press conference on Saturday, FBI Special Agent in Charge George Piro told reporters that Santiago had visited a local FBI office to speak with agents. However, after the agents noticed his “erratic behavior,” they notified authorities and he was allegedly taken to a hospital for observation, according to Piro.


Blake Bakkila

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