Students affected by delays following Fort Lauderdale shooting

Wheaton students returning for spring semester classes were affected by flight delays and cancellations due to winter weather and Friday’s tragic shooting in Fort Lauderdale.
On Jan. 6, Esteban Santiago’s rampage through the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport baggage claim left five dead and multiple injured. Santiago, a 26-year-old Iraq war veteran, allegedly fired two magazines before laying on the ground and waiting for security to apprehend him.
Following the shooting, heightened security and flight delays affected numerous Wheaton College students. Junior Elisabeth Hunter of Fort Lauderdale was visiting a Wheaton alumna Melinda Faulk ’16 at an elementary school just five minutes from the airport when the shooting occurred. The school was put on lockdown, and Hunter said she “couldn’t believe this could happen so close to my home.” 
Junior Ashton Anderson lives in Coral Springs, Florida, just 30 minutes outside of Fort Lauderdale. Anderson was in Miami when she started receiving texts about the shooting and drove by the airport on her way home. When she turned on the news, she was shocked to see footage of the baggage claim where she is “constantly picking up baggage” after flying home. However, Anderson said any fear she felt for flying out of the airport two days after the shooting was “nothing in comparison to the anger I feel towards this man who took the lives of innocent people.”
The incident caused delays, cancellations and heightened security in major metropolises across the country. According to ABC News, airports in New York City were monitored by Port Authority Police officers equipped with heavy tactical weapons, armored vehicles were positioned outside terminals and K-9 patrols and random bag checks were increased.
The shooting has also called into question the efficacy of the mental health system. In November, just two months before firing on innocent people, Santiago underwent psychological evaluation after walking into an FBI office in Anchorage, Alaska, claiming the government was “controlling his mind.” Though initially seized, his handgun — the same used in Friday’s shooting — was returned after he was not adjudicated mentally ill. U.S. Attorney for Alaska Karen Loeffler said in a press conference that authorities acted within the law, which requires someone to be deemed mentally ill in order to ban weapon possession. However, CNN national security and law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes referred to the situation as one where “(Santiago) slipped through the cracks.”
Santiago will be charged with performing an act of violence against a person at an airport serving international civil aviation that caused serious bodily injury, using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and causing the death of a person through the use of a firearm. Maximum sentencing for two of the aforementioned charges could include the death penalty. His next court date is set for Jan. 17 in Fort Lauderdale under Judge Alicia O. Valle.

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