World Bulletin / News Desk
The Iraqi war veteran accused of shooting dead five people at a Florida airport pleaded not guilty in court Monday to federal charges that could lead to the death penalty.
A lawyer for Esteban Santiago, 26, entered the plea to all 22 counts in the federal indictment in an arraignment at the US court in Fort Lauderdale, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Miami.
"Mr Esteban Santiago Ruiz pleads not guilty," his lawyer Eric Cohen told the federal judge, Barry Seltzer.
The judge read the 22 charges against him and asked Santiago one by one if he understood them.
Santiago, wearing a high-security red jail jumpsuit, his wrists and ankles shackled, responded "yes" each time, calmly and without emotion.
Santiago was formally charged last Thursday with 11 counts of performing an act of violence against a person at an international airport, six counts of using a firearm in a crime of violence, and five counts of using a firearm to cause the death of a person.
The charges carry a maximum penalty of death or life in prison.
On January 6, the suspect arrived around midday at the Fort Lauderdale airport on a one-way ticket from Alaska.
Soon after landing, authorities say Santiago retrieved a 9mm handgun and ammunition that he had declared and packed in his checked luggage, then opened fire in Terminal 2 of the busy airport until he ran out of ammunition.
Then he dropped to the ground and peacefully surrendered to a sheriff's deputy, authorities said.
About a month earlier, Santiago walked into the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Anchorage office complaining that his mind was being controlled by national intelligence agencies that had forced him to watch videos of the jihadist Islamic State group.
The FBI said his "erratic behavior" led agents to contact local police, who took him for a mental health evaluation.
A former member of the Puerto Rico and Alaska National Guard, Santiago served in the Iraq war from April 2010 to February 2011. He ended his military service in August.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Ocak 2017, 08:03