Alleged Ft. Lauderdale gunman due in federal court Monday

5 people died in the airport attack

(Broward Sheriff's Office via AP)
(Broward Sheriff's Office via AP)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WWLP) – The FBI may have known that Esteban Santiago had mental health issues well before Friday’s deadly shooting.

They said Santiago visited their Alaska office in November to report that an intelligence agency was controlling his mind.

His behavior was so concerning, agents there confiscated his gun and ordered a mental health evaluation. NBC News reports that Santiago underwent the evaluation but was released after four days. He was given his gun back a month later.

Police now believe he used that same gun to kill five people and wound six others at a Florida airport on Friday. The FBI said Santiago flew from Alaska to Fort Lauderdale’s Hollywood International Airport with a gun in his checked baggage. Police say he retrieved the gun after landing and started shooting at people in a baggage claim area.

There is no federal law that would have prevented Santiago from getting his gun back. According to the Federal Gun Control Act, anyone who has been committed to a mental institution cannot own a firearm. That means, people who voluntarily submit to mental health treatment don’t lose their right to possess a gun.

Santiago has been held without bail since his arrest. He is expected to be in federal court Monday morning for his first hearing. Santiago’s charges include performing an act of violence at an airport. If convicted, he could be sentenced to the death penalty.

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