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Florida airport shooting suspect indicted on 22 criminal counts

Law enforcement walk outside a terminal after a shooter opened fire at a baggage carousel at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, January 6, 2017. REUTERS/Zachary Fagenson
Law enforcement walk outside a terminal after a shooter opened fire at a baggage carousel at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, January 6, 2017. REUTERS/Zachary Fagenson

TAMPA, Fla. — A federal grand jury has indicted on 22 criminal counts a man accused of killing five people in a mass shooting at a Florida airport this month, U.S. prosecutors said on Thursday.

Esteban Santiago, 26, is accused of opening fire in the baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale airport on Jan. 6. The charges against him include multiple counts of violence at an airport causing death and injury, as well as firearms crimes.

If convicted, he could be punished by life imprisonment or death. Prosecutors have not said whether they will seek a death sentence.

The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Broward County, Florida, where the attack occurred, prosecutors in the U.S. Southern District of Florida said in a news release.

Authorities said Santiago aimed at victims’ heads and bodies until he ran out of ammunition and was taken into custody. Five people were killed in the attack and six others wounded.

The indictment accuses Santiago of “substantial planning and premeditation to cause the death of a person.”

An Iraq War veteran, Santiago had a history of erratic behavior. Authorities have said they were investigating whether mental illness played a role in the shooting.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and James Dalgleish)

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