Sunday, January 08, 2017

Federal Criminal Complaint filed against Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooter, Esteban Santiago

The Feds have decided to bring this case, which may bring the death penalty.  Below is the Criminal Complaint. (It is not clear yet whether the State will also bring charges.)

The case will be prosecuted by Rick Del Toro with assistance from Department of Justice Trial Attorney Larry Schneider.  Esteban Santiago Ruiz will make his initial appearance on Monday at 11am before Magistrate Judge Alicia O. Valle in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Interestingly, Judge Valle used to be the press person for the U.S. Attorney's Office, so she will know how to handle the media, which will be packing her courtroom.  

If Ruiz and his family do not retain counsel, he will be appointed counsel, likely the Federal Public Defender's Office, which is well-equipped to handle a case like this. If the government seeks the death penalty (that decision will be made in D.C. by the new Attorney General), then learned counsel (a lawyer with death penalty experience) will be appointed to the trial team.  

The federal charges include: Title 18, United States Code, Section 37(a)(1), performing an act of violence against a person at an airport serving international civil aviation that caused serious bodily injury; Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1)(A), using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; and  Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(j), causing the death of a person through the use of a firearm in the course of a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c). The statutory charges authorize a maximum penalty, upon conviction, of death or imprisonment for life or any term of years. 

According to the complaint, on January 6, 2017, Esteban Santiago Ruiz was present in the Terminal 2 baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when he pulled out a gun and started shooting until he was out of ammunition.  Santiago killed five people and wounded six more.  Moments later, Santiago was confronted by a BSO deputy.  He dropped his handgun on the ground and was arrested by BSO deputies.  According to the complaint, he then confessed after being read his Miranda rights.

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