The man accused of fatally shooting five people and wounding six others at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport earlier this month will remain behind bars until his trial begins, with questions remaining about his motive.
A hearing took place Tuesday morning in Fort Lauderdale to determine whether 26-year-old Esteban Santiago could be released on bail. Prosecutors wanted Santiago held in custody until trial, and a judge agreed.
Santiago admitted to both the FBI and sheriff's deputies that he had planned the attack, and recounted the events of the day, according to prosecutors. But after initially saying he carried out the shooting due to mind control by the government, Santiago allegedly changed his story and said it was because of ISIS and chatrooms he visited.
"He has admitted to all of the facts with respect to the terrible and tragic events of Jan. 6," Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Del Toro said. "These were vulnerable victims who he shot down methodically."
A public defender representing Santiago questioned one official from the FBI, who confirmed the gun that police in Anchorage, Alaska took from Santiago in November during a six-day period in which he was hospitalized at a psychiatric institute and later returned was the one used in the Jan. 6 shooting.
Judge Lorena Snow agreed Santiago was a flight risk and ordered him to remain in custody. Santiago's next court date was moved from Jan. 23 to 30.
The public defender, Robert Berube, said Santiago would not contest the pretrial detention order.
"Mr. Santiago is prepared to remain in custody," Berube said.
Santiago could get the death penalty if convicted of federal airport violence and firearms charges that resulted in death. He's accused of the shooting rampage near the baggage claim area of Terminal 2, which remained closed for almost a week following the incident.
The FBI says that after Santiago bought a one way ticket and flew from Anchorage, Alaska to Fort Lauderdale, he took that 9mm handgun out of a checked gun box, loaded it in a bathroom and emerged firing 15 rounds. Santiago has yet to enter a plea.
Two more victims were released from the hospital Tuesday, leaving one person, who remains in serious condition.
A Tuesday afternoon meeting scheduled to address airport safety, gun laws and how to prevent a future attack will include officials from the FBI as well as U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Broward Sheriff Scott Israel.