FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Esteban Santiago, the accused killer at the crowded baggage claim area of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, told the FBI in November that the government controlled his mind and forced him to watch ISIS videos.
The 26-year-old former combat engineer was born in New Jersey and raised in Puerto Rico. His brother, Bryan Santiago, lives in Penuela, where they grew up. He told reporters their father died, while his brother was serving overseas in the military.
His maternal aunt, Maria Ruiz, who lives in Union City, told reporters in New Jersey that he wasn’t the same when he came back from Iraq.
“He lost his mind,” Ruiz said in Spanish, as she referred to a psychiatric hospitalization that occurred after he allegedly suffered from hallucinations.
Federal law enforcement officials investigated Santiago last year. He told FBI agents that he heard voices in his head that told him to watch Islamic State materials, but he said he was in control and had no intention of hurting anyone, according to The New York Times.