According to authorities, after the Alaska police confiscated a handgun from the man who went on a shooting spree and killed five people at Fort Lauderdale’s airport on Friday, they returned it to him after a medical evaluation claimed he was not mentally ill.
Esteban Santiago, a 26-year-old war veteran, is known for his erratic behavior and investigators are questioning if mental illness was the reason for the country’s latest mass shooting.
Marlin Ritzman, who is in charge of the FBI’s office in Anchorage, said at a news conference on Saturday that Santiago came to his office and claimed that the U.S. intelligence agency was controlling his mind. Local police then took him to get a mental evaluation at a nearby medical facility.
“Santiago was having terroristic thoughts and believed he was being influenced by ISIS (the Islamic State militant group,)” Anchorage Police Chief Chris Tolley said during a news conference.
Tolley also admitted that the handgun that was taken from Santiago during the evaluation was returned last month, although it is not clear if that was the weapon used on Friday.
Officials in Anchorage insisted that they had to return the gun because he was not ruled mentally ill.
“As far as I know, this is not somebody that would have been prohibited (from having a gun) based on the information they had,” U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler said.
The shooting spree left five dead, six wounded and over three dozen people with bruises and broken bones due to the chaos in the airport.