Suspected Fort Lauderdale airport shooter charged, faces possible death penalty

The suspected shooter in Friday's deadly rampage at a Fort Lauderdale airport was charged on Saturday with federal counts that could carry the death penalty.

Esteban Santiago, 26, was charged with performing an act of violence against a person at an airport serving international civil aviation and two other counts, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida said.

Five people were killed in the shooting rampage at the baggage claim of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport at around 12:55 p.m.

Related: Shooting at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

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Shooting at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JANUARY 06: Police direct traffic outside of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport after a shooting took place near the baggage claim on January 6, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Officials are reporting that five people wear killed and eight wounded in an attack from a single gunman. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Esteban Santiago, is shown in this booking photo provided by the Broward County Sheriff's Office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, January 7, 2017.

(Courtesy Broward County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS)

Police question people who are evacuating from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport near the tarmac after airport shooting in Florida, U.S., January 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Innerarity

Esteban Santiago, the suspect in the mass shooting at Fort Lauderdale International Airport, is transported to the Broward County Main Jail by authorities on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017.

(Jim Rassol/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JANUARY 06: People wait on the tarmac of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport after a shooting took place near the baggage claim on January 6, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Officials are reporting that five people wear killed and eight wounded in an attack from a single gunman. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Law enforcement personnel search the grounds after a shoot opened fire at a baggage carousel at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S., January 6, 2017. REUTERS/Zachary Fagenson
A man is helped after airport shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, U.S., January 6, 2017. Courtesy Mike Starobinsky/Maxwillsolutions/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.

Airport security personnel stand in front of one of the entrances to the baggage area of Terminal 2, where yesterday a shooter killed five people and wounded six others before he was taken into custody, at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport on January 7, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The alleged gunman, Esteban Santiago, 26, is reported to have flown from Alaska to Florida with a gun in a checked bag, and after landing used the gun to shoot people.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Shooting victims are unloaded from an emergency vehicle and taken into Broward Health Trauma Center Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Authorities said multiple people have died after a lone suspect opened fire at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

Broward County Sheriff officers exit from the escalator that takes people from the baggage area of Terminal 2 where yesterday a shooter killed five people and wounded six others before he was taken into custody, at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport on January 7, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The alleged gunman, Esteban Santiago, 26, is reported to have flown from Alaska to Florida with a gun in a checked bag, and after landing used the gun to shoot people.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A shooting victim is unloaded from an emergency vehicle and taken into Broward Health Trauma Center Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Authorities said multiple people have died after a lone suspect opened fire at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
A shooting victim is unloaded from an emergency vehicle and taken into Broward Health Trauma Center Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Authorities said multiple people have died after a lone suspect opened fire at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
A shooting victim is unloaded from an emergency vehicle and taken into Broward Health Trauma Center Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Authorities said multiple people have died after a lone suspect opened fire at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Travelers and airport workers are evacuated out of the terminal after airport shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, U.S., January 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Innerarity
Travelers are evacuated out of the terminal and onto the tarmac after airport shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, U.S., January 6, 2017. REUTERS/Zachary Fagenson
Law enforcement walk outside a terminal after a shooter opened fire at a baggage carousel at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S., January 6, 2017. REUTERS/Zachary Fagenson
Law enforcement personnel take cover below a stairwell in a parking garage opposite a terminal after a shooter opened fire at a baggage carousel at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S., January 6, 2017. REUTERS/Zachary Fagenson
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JANUARY 06: Police assist people seeking cover outside of Terminal 2 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport after a shooting took place near the baggage claim on January 6, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Officials are reporting that five people wear killed and eight wounded in an attack from a single gunman. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JANUARY 06: People seek cover on the tarmac of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport after a shooting took place near the baggage claim on January 6, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Officials are reporting that five people wear killed and eight wounded in an attack from a single gunman. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JANUARY 06: People take cover outsideTerminal 2 of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport after a shooting took place near the baggage claim on January 6, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Officials are reporting that five people wear killed and 8 wounded in an attack from a single gunman. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JANUARY 06: People take cover behind cars outside of Terminal 2 of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport after a shooting took place near the baggage claim on January 6, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Officials are reporting that five people wear killed and 8 wounded in an attack from a single gunman. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JANUARY 06: People wait on the tarmac of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport after a shooting took place near the baggage claim on January 6, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Officials are reporting that five people wear killed and eight wounded in an attack from a single gunman. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Esteban Santiago, the suspect in the mass shooting at Fort Lauderdale International Airport, is transported to the Broward County Main Jail by authorities on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017.

(Jim Rassol/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

A shooting victim is unloaded from an emergency vehicle and taken into Broward Health Trauma Center Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Authorities said multiple people have died after a lone suspect opened fire at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
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Court documents say Santiago told the FBI after the shooting that he planned the attack, buying a one-way ticket from Anchorage and checked a box with a Walther 9 mm handgun and the two ammunition magazines he used in the shooting.

Santiago told the FBI that after landing he retrieved the checked handgun case, went to a bathroom and loaded the weapon, and then tucked it into his waistband and left the restroom, where he shot the first people he encountered, according to a criminal complaint.

Santiago had been treated for mental health issues in Anchorage, where he lived, officials said. His aunt told NBC News that the former National Guardsman was "not OK" after returning from a 10-month deployment in Iraq.

In November Santiago walked into the FBI office there and complained his mind was being controlled by a U.S. intelligence agency, the FBI said Saturday. He was taken for a mental health evaluation and his gun was taken from him for safe keeping. The gun was returned in December.

Related: Reactions to incident at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

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#breaking reports of shots fired at FLL Live pics from #chopper4 @CBSMiami https://t.co/PkZBiERKo9
>@MxWllSolutions has tweeted a photo of a victim at the FLL airport. "Guy is bleeding profusely."
Yikes, look at this breaking news text I just got... I'm sure this will be all over the news soon... #FLL… https://t.co/zg8wbLGmby
Hope it's inaccurate or wrong but apparently there's a mass shooting at FLL airport, please be safe... prayers for the victims 🙏
NBC NEWS: 9 people shot, 1 dead at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport; shooter is in custody, law enforcement sources say
.@WPLGLocal10 is working to confirm these tweets by former WH Press Secretary @AriFleischer of a shooting at… https://t.co/6JmUfkrI7b
I'm stuck on the FLL airport tarmac in terminal 2 and there's a roadblock on I-95. Apparently there was a shooting… https://t.co/vbnZRSMqz6
I'm at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport. Shots have been fired. Everyone is running.
#BREAKING Suspect in custody after shooting at Ft. Lauderdale Airport https://t.co/XjP9GAV2WU https://t.co/XVCWPP2GvX
Tragic news out of Florida today, with news of an airport shooting. We're 6 days into 2017 and this is our 6th ma… https://t.co/PnqUMkRLKQ
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The FBI in Alaska said there was no reason to place him on a no-fly list, and a federal prosecutor there told reporters there it appeared there was no reason under the law to deny him his gun.

Federal guidelines allow for passengers to check unloaded guns in a locked case, and also allows for ammunition to be placed in checked baggage.

"During our initial investigation we found no ties to terrorism," FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Anchorage office Marlin Ritzman told reporters. "He broke no laws when he came into our office making disjointed comments about mind control."

Investigators say Santiago fired ten to fifteen rounds of ammunition from his handgun, shooting all the rounds in one magazine, then reloading and emptying the second.

Santiago aimed at his victims' heads during the rampage until he ran out of bullets, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Six people were wounded. Santiago dropped his handgun and got on the ground to wait for police, witnesses said.

The charges against Santiago also carry the possibility of life in prison, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. He is expected to appear in a Fort Lauderdale federal court Monday morning.

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