Gun used by airport shooting suspect was once taken away from him — then returned

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The gun believed to have been used by the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, airport shooter to kill five people and wound six more is the same weapon that was once taken away from him because of his mental state, sources told NBC News on Sunday.

Former Army reservist Esteban Santiago, 26, walked into an Alaska FBI office with his infant child on Nov. 7 "to report that his mind was being controlled by a U.S. intelligence agency," Special Agent in Charge Marlin Ritzman told reporters Saturday.

Agents then called Anchorage police, who retrieved a gun from his car outside.

"Santiago was having terroristic thoughts and believed he was being influenced by ISIS," Anchorage Police Chief Chris Tolley said in a news conference Saturday.

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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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The FBI confirmed that Santiago's child was taken into the "constant custody and care of the FBI" until Santiago's girlfriend, the child's mother, could pick him up.

His brother Bryan Santiago told NBC News partner Telemundo in Puerto Rico that Esteban was taken by police to a mental health evaluation but was released after only four days.

Police returned the handgun to him one month later, officials said.


Broward County Sheriff's Office

On Sunday, federal law enforcement sources told NBC News that they believe that the gun authorities seized was the same weapon he allegedly used in Friday's shootings, a Walther 9mm pistol.

Ritzman said it's normal for people to deliver walk-in complaints at FBI offices across the country. He added that nothing in Santiago's actions or history indicated a need to do anything more than to take him to the mental health facility.

"There have been concerns raised about why Mr. Santiago was not placed on a no-fly list. I want to be clear, during our initial investigation we found no ties to terrorism," Ritzman said. "He broke no laws when he came into our office making disjointed comments about mind control."

Reactions to the attack on social media:

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Reactions to incident at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
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Reactions to incident at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
#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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In January 2016, however, Santiago was arrested and charged with assault and criminal mischief after a violent argument with his girlfriend in Anchorage. She told investigators that he broke down the door, choked her and hit her on the side of the head.

Nevertheless, on Nov. 17, Anchorage police sent Santiago a letter inviting him to pick up his gun from evidence lockup, Tolley said. The former soldier went by the police station on Nov. 30 to pick up his weapon.

Related: Airport Shooting Suspect Esteban Santiago Sought Help for Mental Problems: Brother

But law enforcement officials said Santiago was unable to leave with his weapon that day, as police felt compelled to discuss the issue with the local FBI office.

Police then made an appointment with Santiago for Dec. 8 to pick up his weapon.

The U.S. attorney for Alaska, Karen Loeffler, said federal law requires that someone be "adjudicated mentally ill" for him or her to be prohibited from owning a handgun, which she said is difficult.

"This is not somebody that would have been prohibited [from having a gun] based on the information that they had," she said. "Law enforcement acted within the laws that they had."

In interviews with the gunman, law enforcement officials learned that Santiago had planned the horrific attack. He traveled from Anchorage to Fort Lauderdale with just the handgun and two magazines legally in his checked baggage, which he took to the bathroom to assemble.

In a chilling video obtained by TMZ, Santiago is seen walking casually in baggage claim with the weapon tucked in his waistband. He then pulls it out and begins shooting.

WARNING: Graphic content:

Related: Fort Lauderdale Shooting: Three Victims Were Headed to Vacations

Santiago told law enforcement that he believes he fired 15 rounds before being arrested. Five people were killed, and six others were wounded.

The U.S. attorney's office for southern Florida has charged him with performing an act of violence against a person at an airport serving international civil aviation and two other counts. If he's convicted, Santiago could face the death penalty.

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