World

Airport shooter charged

MIAMI The US authorities have charged an Iraq war veteran accused in a deadly shooting rampage at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport with offences that could carry the death penalty. They are also probing if terrorism was a motive.

Esteban Santiago, 26, was accused of killing five, wounding six and sending thousands scrambling for safety on Friday before the authorities shut down the airport in Florida.

He was charged with firearms offences and carrying out an act of violence at an airport, US Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said in a statement. If convicted, he could face the death penalty or life in prison.

Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent George Piro said law enforcement was continuing to investigate motives.

Mr Piro said Santiago seemed to be acting alone and "every indication is that he did follow (proper) procedures in flying with the weapon".

A former member of the Puerto Rico and Alaska National Guard, Santiago served in Iraq from April 2010 to February 2011. He ended his service last August.

On Nov 7, Santiago walked into an FBI office and said his mind was being controlled by national intelligence agencies, forcing him to watch Islamic State in Iraq and Syria videos.

The "erratic behaviour" led agents to contact local police, who took him to a medical facility for a mental health evaluation, Mr Piro said.

Santiago's brother, Bryan, criticised the way the authorities handled his case.

"They had him hospitalised for four days and let him go. How are you going to let someone leave a psychological centre after four days when he said he hears voices that the Central Intelligance Agency is telling him to join certain groups?"

He told CNN: "Not everyone has the same reaction when they return from war. Some are better, and some, not so much."
 - AFP

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