The Other McCain

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FORT LAUDERDALE MASSACRE; UPDATE: 5 Dead, 8 Injured — Police

Posted on | January 6, 2017 | No Comments

 

UPDATE 6:30 p.m. ET: More details on the Fort Lauderdale shooter:

The gunman — wearing a Star Wars T-shirt — was taken into custody and has since been identified as 26-year-old Esteban Santiago.
Santiago flew into the airport from Anchorage, Alaska (with a layover in Minneapolis, St. Paul) on Delta flight 2182, and checked a gun for the flight. . . .
NBC News reports that Santiago had a history of mental problems, but had reportedly been getting treatment.
His most recent address was in Naples, but he lived in Anchorage from 2014 to 2016, where his girlfriend and child continue to live. He is also from New Jersey.
Santiago was a combat engineer in the Army National Guard, and served one year in Iraq before being honorably discharged last year, the Army Criminal Investigation Division confirmed. . . .
Sources also told ABC News that Santiago was contacted by the FBI after an employer back in Alaska raised concerns about certain things he had said. After that meeting, Santiago started getting treatment for his mental health issues. . . .
Court records in that state show he had a minor criminal record for traffic violations. He was also evicted by his landlord for failing to pay rent in February 2015.
Santiago was charged with fourth-degree assault and damage of property in January 2016, stemming from a domestic violence incident.

This is a mentally ill man with a history of petty crime and social problems — a kook, a misfit. There appears to be no political motive, which would mean that everyone who speculated otherwise was wrong.

UPDATE 7:30 p.m.: Did I speak too soon? CBS News:

According to the Associated Press, the Pentagon said he went AWOL several times as a specialist during a stint with the Alaska National Guard and was demoted to private first class. He was given a general discharge, which is different from an honorable discharge.
In November 2016, he walked into an FBI office in Anchorage claiming that he was being forced to fight for ISIS and was sent to a psychiatric hospital, officials revealed.
In 2011 or 2012, he was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations for child porn. Three weapons and a computer were seized, but there was not enough evidence to prosecute, according to law enforcement sources.

OK, (a) even if this guy was just a delusional kook, his delusion involved an Islamic terrorist organization, (b) that this guy had been on the FBI radar for two months, yet was still able to board a flight to Florida, is disturbing, and (c) the child pornography investigation five years ago suggests this guy had red flags all over him. How does someone’s problems bring them to the attention of three separate federal departments — Defense, Justice and Homeland Security — yet they’re still boarding a flight with firearms in their luggage? (Hat-tip: Pamela Geller.)

* * * * *

* * * PREVIOUSLY (1:46 p.m. ET) * * *

At least nine people are reported dead after a gunman went on a rampage:

A gunman is in custody after a deadly shooting at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport.
Sources tell NBC Miami that nine people have been shot and three people have died. . . .
An airport spokesman said that the center of the incident was in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2.
Former White House press secretary to President George W. Bush, Ari Fleischer, was at the airport at the time and tweeted about the chaos Friday afternoon.
Just after 1pm, he wrote that ‘shots have been fired. Everyone is running’.

UPDATE 3 p.m. ET: According to Fox News, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson says the shooter’s name is Esteban Santiago, whose name was reportedly found on his military ID. No motive is yet known. The official death toll is five. There are now reports of a possible second gunman.

UPDATE 3:20 p.m. ET: NBC Miami affiliate WTVJ-TV reports:

A gunman opened fire at Fort Lauderdale / Hollywood International Airport Friday afternoon, killing at least five people and injuring eight others before being taken into custody, authorities said. More than an hour later, people were seen running across the tarmac and sheltering behind cars while police had their guns drawn.
Law enforcement sources identified the shooter as Esteban Santiago, a 26-year-old man born in New Jersey. Multiple sources told NBC News that he had a military ID on him. . . .
The Broward Sheriff’s Office said they received a call about the shooting around 12:55 p.m. Live video more than an hour after the attack showed people running across the tarmac between terminals while others took cover behind cars – while officials search for another possible shooter. Police were also seen running into a parking garage with guns drawn.
Police officers responded less than a minute after the shooting began, [witness Mark] Lea said. Once the shooter was out of bullets, “he was gunned down by police,” he said. . . .

It is important not to jump to conclusions about the motive for such incidents before we have actual facts we can rely on. When news is breaking, a “wait-and-see” posture is always best, no matter what our suspicions may be. One obvious element of suspicion in this shooting is that we know President-elect Donald Trump has a home in South Florida, and it is therefore possible that this gunman’s act had some political motive. However, we do not have any facts yet to support that speculation, and I mention this one possible theory simply to illustrate how easy it is to make such speculations. If the gunman had been named “Mohamad” or “Abdul,” obviously other theories would be a fair subject of speculation, whereas if his name was “Bubba Wayne” or “Billy Joe,” our guesses might lean another way. Yet we must wait for the facts before we can start claiming to know the why of this incident.

UPDATE 3:48 p.m. ET: Multiple news outlets are quoting a Facebook post by Broward County Commissioner Chip La Marca about the incident:

The shooter was a passenger on a Canadian flight with a checked gun. He claimed his bag and took the gun from baggage and went into the bathroom to load it. Came out shooting people in baggage claim. There were 13 total shot, 5 dead, 8 transported to hospital.

If this account is accurate, then it would appear that the gunman’s attack was premeditated, although evidence that the shooting was planned does not tell us anything about the shooter’s motive.

 

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