What to Know
- Esteban Santiago, 28, pleaded guilty to 11 charges stemming from the January 2017 attack at a hearing in Miami federal court.
- The plea deal was struck after prosecutors announced they would not seek the death penalty. Instead, Santiago agreed to a life sentence.
- Five people were killed and six others wounded in the shooting
An Alaska man who killed five people and wounded six others in a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale Airport pleaded guilty Wednesday and will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Esteban Santiago, 28, pleaded guilty to 11 charges stemming from the January 2017 attack at a hearing in federal court.
"Why did you do what you did?" U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom asked Santiago at the hearing.
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"I don't know, I wasn't thinking about it at the moment," Santiago replied.
Santiago, of Anchorage, Alaska, admitted in court documents he opened fire with a handgun in a baggage area at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
The plea deal was struck after prosecutors announced they would not seek the death penalty. Instead, Santiago agreed to a life prison sentence plus 120 years. His formal sentencing is set for Aug. 17.
"Although this conviction cannot restore the lives lost or forever changed by his egregious acts of violence, it shows our unwavering and united commitment to seeking justice for the victims," U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg said in a statement.
An Iraq war veteran, Santiago has been treated for schizophrenia since his arrest. He was briefly hospitalized in Anchorage but was not barred from owning a gun.
According to the indictment, Santiago flew on a one-way ticket from Alaska to Fort Lauderdale with a 9 mm handgun in a box he put in checked luggage. After landing he retrieved the weapon, loaded it in a bathroom and came out firing randomly until he exhausted his ammunition.