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Accused Fort Lauderdale shooter, Esteban Santiago, pleaded not guilty to all charges

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UPDATE Jan. 30 at 2:54 p.m. 

Esteban Santiago, the man charged with killing five people at the Fort Lauderdale airport on Jan. 6, pleaded not guilty to all charges Monday. 

CNN reports that US Magistrate Judge Barry Seltzer read Santiago's charges and asked if he understood that he could face life in prison or death. To that, Santiago replied, "Yes."

Authorities have yet to disclose a motive for the attack.

Original story 

Esteban Santiago, who is charged with killing five people at the Fort Lauderdale airport on Jan. 6, told investigators he carried out the attack for the Islamic State. 

Authorities said in court Tuesday that Santiago had allegedly communicated with members of ISIS in "jihadi chat rooms," the Sun Sentinel reports

FBI special agent Michael Ferlazzo, who testified at Santiago's bond hearing Tuesday, didn't say whether the 26-year-old suspect is actually linked to ISIS or if he was just inspired by the terrorist organization.  

Federal prosecutors also noted that Santiago had practiced firing a semi-automatic weapon at a gun range in Alaska in the months leading up to the attack. Santiago underwent a psychiatric evaluation prior to the Jan. 6 attack after he told the FBI in Anchorage that he was hearing voices and was being controlled by the CIA.

Anchorage police reportedly returned that same weapon to Santiago after he was "deemed to be stable." Santiago wasn't prescribed any psychiatric drugs during or after his hospital stay, the Sun Sentinel reports. 

CNN reports that Santiago made similar claims during an interrogation after the shooting, but after he was transferred to the FBI office that changed. Santiago then claimed that he carried out the attacks for ISIS. 


Santiago is facing charges for 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 he is convicted for the last two, he could face the death penalty. 

Santiago is being held without bond and his next court appearance his scheduled for Jan. 30.

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