Fort Lauderdale airport gunman sentenced to life in prison

Esteban Santiago will serve 11 consecutive prison terms for killing five and injuring six at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in January 2017. (Photo: CNN)

The man who admitted killing five people and injuring six others at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport last year will spend the rest of his life in prison.

A federal judge sentenced Esteban Santiago-Ruiz, 28, to five life terms — plus six consecutive 20-year stints — three months after the former Alaska National Guardsman pled guilty to opening fire in the airport on Jan. 6, 2017 after disembarking from a flight from Anchorage.

“While nothing can ever heal the wounds inflicted by the defendant’s unspeakable and horrific acts of violence, we hope that the life sentence imposed today provides at least some sense of justice for the victims and their loved ones,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg.  “Though we all hope that such tragedy never again occurs, law enforcement remains committed to making our community safer and caring for victims of crime when tragedy strikes.”

According to court documents, Santiago-Ruiz traveled on a one-way flight from Anchorage to Fort Lauderdale, equipped only with a hard-sided firearm case that he checked. The bag contained a Walther 9mm pistol and two loaded magazines, previously reported.

After arriving in Florida, he retrieved the case and retreated to a bathroom to load his pistol and conceal it underneath a jacket. He then walked into the terminal and began shooting indiscriminately at the first people he saw, firing until he emptied both magazines. Once out of ammo, Santiago-Ruiz dropped the gun and Broward County sheriff’s deputies arrested him.

“Since this horrible tragedy first occurred, my prayers have remained with the families,” Sheriff Scott Israel said. “Though this sentencing won’t change the outcome, I hope everyone affected by this killer’s heinous actions can find a way to move forward and heal.”

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