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Esteban Santiago: Alaska man gets life sentence for Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood airport shooting

Posted: 11:15 AM, Aug 17, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-17 12:13:44-04
Esteban Santiago: Alaska man gets life sentence for Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood airport shooting

An Alaska man will be spending the rest of his life in prison for the January 2017 Fort Lauderdale airport shooting that left five people dead and six wounded.

A sentencing hearing was held Friday for 28-year-old Esteban Santiago, who pleaded guilty in May to 11 charges in a plea deal in which prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty.

Santiago, of Anchorage, Alaska, admitted he opened fire with a handgun in a baggage area at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

At the hearing, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom accepted the agreement, which calls for a life prison sentence plus 120 years.

Several relatives of the victims delivered statements to the judge at the hearing. Santiago chose not to speak.

"While nothing can ever heal the wounds inflicted by the defendant’s unspeakable and horrific acts of violence, we hope that the life sentence imposed today provides at least some sense of justice for the victims and their loved ones," U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg said in a statement.

An Iraq war veteran, Santiago is diagnosed as schizophrenic but was found competent to understand legal proceedings.

Santiago initially told the FBI after the shooting he was under government mind control, then switched to unfounded claims he acted in support of the Islamic State extremist group.

"My thoughts are with the victims, their loved ones and everyone affected by this senseless and cowardly act of violence," Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami, said in a statement. "While this sentence cannot erase what happened, may it serve to demonstrate society’s commitment to honor and remember those who suffered that day."

Story from our news partner NBC 6 and Associated Press