Accused Florida gunman, Esteban Santiago, who is charged with opening fire at a Florida airport, killing five victims and wounding six others, told investigators that he spoke with ISIS terrorists in “jihadi chat rooms” and carried out the deadly Jan. 6 attack on behalf of ISIS, authorities said Tuesday during a bond hearing.
Speaking at a bond hearing in Florida, FBI Special Agent Michael Ferlazzo testified that Esteban Santiago did not specify whether he was acting on ISIS' orders or was inspired by the group, according to CNN.
Ferlazzo said Santiago told him that he was in touch with like-minded individuals on jihadi web forums as they plotted similar attacks. He previously admitted to carrying out the mass shooting, according to authorities cited by AA.
“At various points…he said he carried out the attack because of government mind control,” prosecutor Ricardo Del Toro said. “But he later said he did so because of [ISIS]…after participating in jihadi chat roms.”
Santiago faces multiple charges related to the Jan. 7 shootings at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, including using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; performing an act of violence against a person at an airport serving international civil aviation that caused serious bodily injury; and causing the death of a person through the use of a firearm.
If convicted, he could face the death penalty on the last two charges. Santiago deployed to Iraq in 2010 as part of the Puerto Rico National Guard, and stayed there for a year before returning to the U.S. He reportedly suffered from mental health problems.
Santiago is being held without bond following Tuesday's hearing. He will next appear in court Jan. 30.