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War veteran who killed five people in shooting at Florida airport sentenced to five life terms plus 120 years

He quickly dropped to the ground and peacefully surrendered to a sheriff’s deputy.

Police secure the area.
Police secure the area.
Image: TNS/ABACA

AN IRAQ WAR veteran who pleaded guilty to fatally shooting five people during a rampage at a Florida airport last year was sentenced to life in prison today, prosecutors said

Esteban Santiago Ruiz, who is now 28, opened fire in a busy terminal at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on January 6, 2017, after arriving on a one-way ticket from Alaska. Six people were also wounded in the shooting frenzy.

He quickly dropped to the ground and peacefully surrendered to a sheriff’s deputy, authorities said.

He pleaded guilty in May to five counts of committing acts of violence at an international airport causing death and six counts of committing acts of violence at an international airport causing serious bodily injury.

Today, federal Judge Beth Bloom sentenced him to five consecutive life terms and six consecutive 20-year prison terms on the lesser charges.

“While nothing can ever heal the wounds inflicted by the defendant’s unspeakable and horrific acts of violence, we hope that the life sentence imposed today provides at least some sense of justice for the victims and their loved ones,” US Attorney Benjamin Greenberg said in a statement.

Security industry weighs next steps to thwart mass shootings Esteban Santiago, centre, leaves the Broward County jail last year. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Santiago — a former member of the Puerto Rico and Alaska National Guard — served in the Iraq war from April 2010 to February 2011. He was discharged from the military in August 2016.

Not long before the shooting, Santiago had gone into an FBI satellite office in Anchorage, saying his mind was being controlled by national intelligence agencies that had forced him to watch videos of the jihadist Islamic State group.

The FBI said his “erratic behavior” led agents to contact local police, who took him for a mental health evaluation.

© – AFP 2018

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