An Iraq war veteran charged with killing five people at a South Florida airport last year pleaded guilty Wednesday to multiple federal counts as part of a deal with prosecutors, the Justice Department announced.
Esteban Santiago Ruiz pleaded guilty to five counts of committing acts of violence at an international airport causing death and six counts of committing acts of violence at an international airport causing serious bodily injury.
In exchange for his guilty plea, he will receive a life sentence for each of his five victims and prosecutors will not pursue the death penalty.
He will receive another 120 years based on the injuries to his six surviving victims.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. 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.”
Santiago traveled from his home in Anchorage, Alaska, to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Jan. 6, 2017, according to court documents. He removed handgun from his luggage and began shooting at numerous victims, aiming at heads and bodies until he was out of ammunition, the Justice Department said.
Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 17.
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