People on the airport ramp area near terminals 1 and 2 are seen following a shooting incident at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S. January 6, 2017. (Xinhua/REUTERS)
WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- A shooting incident that claimed five lives at the Fort Lauderdale airport in the U.S. state of Florida has prompted the suspect's relatives and lawmakers on Saturday to question the government's role in the latest tragedy of the gun-violence-rampant country.
Esteban Santiago, a 26-year-old Iraq war veteran, flew into the airport at noon time on Friday. Upon disembarking, he went to the baggage claim, picked up his checked luggage, entered a bathroom, took out a pistol from his bag and loaded bullets. He then went out towards a baggage carousel and shot randomly, sending the crowded terminal into chaos.
After firing 15 rounds, he dropped the handgun, lay aground with the face down and spread eagle to await arrest with no resistance, several witnessed said.
Bryan Santiago, the suspect brother, told the Associated Press (AP) that Esteban had trouble controlling his anger after serving in Iraq and Esteban also felt he was being chased and controlled by the CIA.
The veteran could also "hear voices".
When Esteban Santiago told agents at an FBI field office his paranoid thoughts in November, he was evaluated for four days, and was then released without any follow-up medication or therapy.
"The FBI failed there," Bryan Santiago said, noting that his brother had requested psychological help but barely received any.
"The federal government already knew about this for months, they had been evaluating him for a while, but they didn't do anything."
Signs of trouble also showed when Esteban Santiago was charged in a domestic violence case in Jan. 2016, in which he damaged a door when forcing his way into a bathroom at his girlfriend's Anchorage home and attacking the female.
Anchorage city Police Chief Chris Tolley detailed other complaints of physical disturbances last year involving Esteban Santiago but said officers either found no probable cause for arrest or were told by the city prosecutor not to arrest him.
Esteban Santiago was charged with federal murder crimes on Saturday and could face life sentence or death penalty if convicted, though his motive remains unclear.
AIRPORT SECURITY & GUN CONTROL
Moreover, Esteban Santiago had not been placed on the U.S. no-fly list, authorities said.
Aviation passengers in the United States, if declared, are allowed to transport unloaded guns and ammunition in their checked baggage, according to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
However, the firearms must be kept in a security container and declared to airline representatives at ticket counters.
The shooting, since occurring at a usually-thought unlikely place, renewed anxieties about U.S. aviation security, which has already been greatly tightened since 9/11 attacks in 2001.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who represents the Florida district that includes the airport, said the rules need to be reexamined.
She told the CNN that the incident should prompt close review of "whether or not you should be allowed to check a firearm at all" -- and how passengers should be able to retrieve checked weapons after landing.
Janet King, a Twitter user, wrote, "No guns in airport at all. Ship to destination to be picked up at police station or location away from airport."
Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, blamed the government for not taking legislative action to tighten gun laws.
"Political cowardice is the accomplice of every mass shooter," he wrote on Twitter, "The utter silence of Congress in the face of this carnage has become consent."
WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- The shooter who killed five at the Fort Lauderdale airport in the U.S. state of Florida was officially charged with federal murder on Saturday. Full story
WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- A shooting took place inside the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport in the American state of Florida Friday, causing multiple deaths, local police said. Full story