The ex-military man of Puerto Rican origin Esteban Santiago, accused of the death of five people in a shooting that took place in 2017 at the airport of Fort Laudedale (Florida), will plead guilty to avoid the death penalty, his defense attorney told a judge today.
“Mr. Santiago feels remorse and will plead guilty,” said Eric Cohen, of the team of public defenders that defends the defendant, in a judicial hearing chaired by Judge Beth Bloom and held today in Miami.
Santiago had pleaded not guilty to the 22 charges he was charged with the shooting, but that statement would be changed by virtue of an agreement with the prosecutor’s office, which promised to ask for life imprisonment instead of the death penalty.
The ex-military man born in New Jersey 28 years ago, who barely spoke at today’s hearing, arrived at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport from Anchorage (Alaska) on January 6, 2017 and took a bag from the baggage reclaim hall. checked and went to the bathroom.
In the bag was a semiautomatic weapon that loaded in the bathroom and with which back to the room began to shoot people indiscriminately, as shown by the videos of the security cameras.
Five people were killed and six wounded at the airport by the firing of Santiago, who was arrested without resistance within a few minutes.
The agreement announced today must be approved by the judge in charge of the case, who before accepting it wants to determine if Santiago, who suffers from schizophrenia and has received treatment in prison for that disease, is fit for a trial, local media reported.
A specialist will evaluate your mental health and make a confidential report before the hearing scheduled for May 23.
Although it is documented that he had mental problems before the shooting, Santiago, who served in Iraq, was not prohibited from using weapons. efe