The man alleged to have opened fire in a Fort Lauderdale airport, killing five people, has arrived in court for his first appearance. Iraq war veteran Esteban Santiago, 26, showed no emotion during the hearing, even when he was told that he could be facing the death penalty if found guilty.
His first hearing lasted just over quarter of an hour and was mainly focused on what Santiago’s financial situation was. The suspect arrived in shackles and dressed in a prison issue red jumpsuit. As well as the five people who died, six people were seriously injured and many more received more minor injuries.
Santiago told the court that he was unemployed and had only $10 in his bank account. After saying that he earned $2,000 per month in his previous job as a security guard in Alaska, the judge decided that he would appoint the suspect a public defender to act for him.
One way ticket
He is due for another hearing on Tuesday when he will be told he will be detained without any prospect of bail. A former Army National Guardsman, Santiago is understood to have had a history of mental health issues. He has already told officers that he bought a $278 one way flight from Alaska specifically to carry out the attack in Florida.
Police are continuing to investigate the incident and the motives behind it. Lines of inquiry include whether mental illness or terrorism could have played a role. It has already emerged that Santiago walked into an Anchorage FBI office and said that he thought American spies were controlling his mind.
He is facing charges of using a firearm during a violent act and killing with a firearm. Executions have been on hold in the state of Florida since the US Supreme Court struck down death penalty laws. However, Santiago has been told that is what he could be facing.