Washington-Esteban Santiago, accused of killing five people at a Florida airport, told investigators he was inspired by ISIS and previously chatted online with extremists, an FBI agent testified on Tuesday, U.S. media reported.
Santiago, 26, was ordered held in jail until a Jan. 30 arraignment, court records show. At that time he would enter a formal plea to charges that he opened fire in the baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale airport on Jan. 6.
FBI special agent Michael Ferlazzo testified Santiago told interrogators he carried out the attack on behalf of terror group ISIS and that he had been in contact with others on radical chat rooms who were planning attacks.
“It was a group of like-minded individuals who were all planning attacks,” Ferlazzo said, according to NBC 6.
The FBI has said Santiago previously displayed erratic behavior, entering the FBI office in Anchorage in November and saying his mind was being controlled by a U.S. intelligence agency.
The FBI turned him over to local police, who took him to a medical facility for a mental evaluation, officials said.
Police took a handgun from him but returned it last month after a medical evaluation found he was not mentally ill, authorities said.
Santiago, a private first class in the National Guard who served in Iraq from 2010 to 2011, traveled from Alaska to Florida with a handgun and ammunition in his checked luggage, officials said.
Upon retrieving his gun case from the luggage carousel, he went to a bathroom to load the weapon and then opened fire on others waiting for their bags, investigators said.