An Alaska resident was arrested and charged in a federal criminal complaint in connection with the deadly shooting of multiple victims at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Scott Israel, Sheriff, Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO) announce the arrest of Esteban Santiago Ruiz (Santiago), 26, based on a federal criminal complaint charging him with violations of: Title 18, United States Code, Section 37(a)(1), performing an act of violence against a person at an airport serving international civil aviation that caused serious bodily injury; Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1)(A), using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; and Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(j), causing the death of a person through the use of a firearm in the course of a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c). The statutory charges authorize a maximum penalty, upon conviction, of death or imprisonment for life or any term of years.
Santiago will have his initial appearance Monday, January 9, 2017 at 11:00 a.m., before United States Magistrate Judge Alicia O. Valle in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office expresses our deepest condolences to the victims’ families and to all of those impacted by yesterday’s tragedy. Our Office commends the first responders, civilians and law enforcement partners who came together to provide assistance to those in need and support the ongoing investigation,” stated U.S Attorney Wifredo Ferrer. “Today’s charges represent the gravity of the situation and reflect the commitment of federal, state and local law enforcement personnel to continually protect the community and prosecute those who target our residents and visitors. As the investigation unfolds, we will continue to pursue all leads and evidence in this matter.”
“Our condolences are with the victims of this heinous crime and their families,” said George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. “I want to ensure these families that law enforcement is working tirelessly in order to ensure justice is served.”
According to the criminal complaint, on January 6, 2017, at approximately 12:56 p.m., Santiago was present in the Terminal 2 baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when he pulled out a handgun. The area was crowded with newly-arrived passengers retrieving their luggage. Santiago started shooting, aiming at his victims’ heads until he was out of ammunition. Santiago killed five people and wounded six more. Moments later, Santiago was confronted by a BSO deputy. He dropped his handgun on the ground and was arrested by BSO deputies.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ricardo A. Del Toro with assistance from Department of Justice Trial Attorney Larry Schneider.
A criminal complaint is merely an allegation, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.