The sheriff of Broward County, Fla., said Sunday that Friday’s shooting rampage at the airport underscores that society needs “to have guns in less places, not more places.”
Five people were killed and six wounded at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after a man got off a Delta flight, recovered his handgun at the baggage area, loaded it in a bathroom stall and then began shooting at baggage claim, according to authorities.
The shooter who surrendered at the scene, 26-year-old Esteban Santiago of Anchorage, Alaska, was due in court this morning to face federal firearms offenses and charges of perpetrating violence against people at an international airport resulting in death.
According to the FBI, Santiago walked into their Anchorage field office in November and claimed voices were telling him to watch ISIS propaganda and the CIA was controlling his mind. His 2-month-old son was left in the car along with his weapon. FBI agents called the local police and Santiago, who was facing domestic violence for allegedly strangling his girlfriend, was taken into custody for a mental health evaluation and briefly hospitalized. He received his gun back on Dec. 8.
Sheriff Scott Israel told CNN that officials are going to review the security at soft-target areas such as baggage claim, “but the answer isn’t to beef up airports or — well, that might be important — to beef up venues.”
“We are a free society. We as Americans, we go to airports and stadiums and venues, you know, every day of our lives,” Israel said. “The answer is to have our lawmakers start to look at whether or not what they can do to ensure that convicted felons, people that are put on no-fly lists, certainly people that are suffering from mental health issues. And I have compassion, you know, for people that, you know, they are not problem people. They are people with very real problems. But why individuals are suffering from mental health issues, convicted felons and certainly people who are put on no-fly lists, they should not in my mind possess handguns.”
The sheriff said he would “absolutely not” support an effort in Florida’s legislature to allow people with concealed-carry permits to carry weapons in some area currently off-limits. “I do personally feel like had this bill been in place already, there could have been the potential for people to protect themselves in that situation,” the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Jake Raburn (R), said, according to Florida’s Sun-Sentinel.
“We need to have guns not in airports, not in schools,” Israel said. “The less places that we are allowed to have firearms, long guns, handguns, I think the safer we are.”
Santiago’s case, the sheriff said, demonstrates “why it’s so important to limit people like this, their ability to have weapons and carry weapons.”
“And just as importantly, you want to make sure that the people who have a propensity for violence or what have you, if the public notices these people or they notice a change in behavior, they notice a person is behaving completely different and has a propensity to speak about violence, they need to call law enforcement, they can remain anonymous,” Israel added. “But if you see something in America, you need to say something in America. It doesn’t work all the time, but that doesn’t mean we stop doing it. We need our citizens. We need our civilian partners to help us, you know, stop these horrific acts.”