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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Esteban Santiago-Ruiz Pled Guilty to Federal Charges in Connection with Shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

Esteban Santiago-Ruiz (Santiago) appeared today before United States District Judge Beth Bloom, and pled guilty to charges of committing acts of violence at an international airport resulting in five deaths and serious injuries, in connection with the mass-shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on January 6, 2017.   

Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Robert Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Scott Israel, Sheriff, Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO), made the announcement.

“Today the man responsible for the horrific, devastating, and tragic attack on numerous innocent people at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport was held accountable for his crimes,” stated Benjamin G. Greenberg.  “Although this conviction cannot restore the lives lost or forever changed by his egregious acts of violence, it shows our unwavering and united commitment to seeking justice for the victims.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners are resolute in our dedication to combatting all forms of violent crime and protecting all residents and visitors of our South Florida community.”

“On January 6, 2017, Esteban Santiago-Ruiz committed a mass-shooting when he pulled out a handgun and started shooting inside the terminal of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, killing five people and seriously wounding six more,” said Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami.  “Santiago is now being held accountable for this senseless and cowardly act of violence.”

“When the active killer fired indiscriminately in the baggage claim area on that fateful day, lives were lost and other lives were forever changed by his heartless, violent actions,” Sheriff Scott Israel said. “I commend the work of our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Department of Justice that led to today’s outcome. I can only hope that the resolution of this case brings some peace to the affected families.”

Santiago pled guilty to five counts of committing acts of violence at an international airport causing death (Counts 1-5) and six counts of committing acts of violence at an international airport causing serious bodily injury (Counts 6-11), all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 37(a)(1).

According to court documents, shortly before 1 p.m. on January 6, 2017, Santiago carried out an armed attack on newly-arrived passengers retrieving their luggage in the Terminal 2 baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Santiago pulled out a handgun and started shooting at numerous victims, aiming at the victims’ heads and bodies until he was out of ammunition. Santiago killed five people and seriously wounded six more.  Moments later, Santiago was confronted by a BSO deputy.  He dropped his handgun on the ground and was arrested by BSO deputies.  The FBI investigated the case along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Santiago is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Bloom in Miami on August 17, 2018 at 9:30 a.m.  Santiago faces a sentence of up to life in prison on each of Counts 1-5, and up to twenty years in prison on each of Counts 6-11.

Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative assistance of FBI and BSO in this matter.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ricardo A. Del Toro and Lawrence D. LaVecchio.

Court documents and information related to this case may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on

National Security
Violent Crime
Updated May 23, 2018