UPDATE: FBI corrects information regarding Santiago's child

Photo: Esteban Santiago
Photo: Esteban Santiago(WJRT)
Published: Jan. 7, 2017 at 3:07 PM AKST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn


The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Sunday information released by Anchorage Police Department about Santiago's child was incorrect.

In a written statement, FBI spokesperson Staci Feger-Pellessie said Santiago's child was not left inside the car when Santiago came to the FBI's Anchorage office.

"The child was in constant custody and care of the FBI, inside our facility, until his mother retrieved him," Feger-Pellessie said.


Two months before Esteban Santiago allegedly went on a deadly shooting rampage in Florida, he surrendered a gun to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Alaska and told investigators he was "having terroristic thoughts," Anchorage Police Chief Chris Tolley said Saturday during a news conference.

Santiago is suspected of killing five and injuring eight in a shooting yesterday near the baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

According to the FBI, Santiago flew to the scene of the deadly incident with a gun and ammunition in his checked luggage, which he retrieved in a nearby bathroom before opening fire on the crowd.

Tolley acknowledged there is speculation that the gun used in the terrorist act is the same one Santiago surrendered to the FBI on November 7 when he walked into the bureau's Anchorage office with a loaded gun clip and made a startling claim: "Santiago had arrived at the FBI building asking for help," the police chief said. "Santiago was having terroristic thoughts and believed he was being influenced by ISIS."

His infant was outside in the car with a gun.

Federal investigators contacted APD to transport Santiago to an unnamed mental health facility, and his girlfriend picked up the child.

Weeks later, local police returned the gun to Santiago.

Karen Loeffler, U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska, said there is no mechanism in federal law for officers to permanently seize the gun from Santiago at the time he walked into the FBI in November.

"Obviously, law enforcement operates within the statutes that are given to them," Loeffler said. "There is a federal law with regard to (revoking) a gun from somebody who is mentally ill, but the law requires that somebody be 'adjuticated mentally ill.'

"Law enforcement acted within the laws."

"He was a walk-in complaint," added Marlin Ritzman, FBI special agent in charge of the Anchorage division. "This is something that happens at FBI offices around the country every day. There have been concerns raised about why Mr. Santiago was not placed on a no-fly list. I want to be clear: during our initial investigation, we found no ties to terrorism."

In addition to his visit to the FBI office, he had several encounters in recent years with law enforcement officials in the Last Frontier:

Sept. 14, 2015

Police ticket Santiago for driving a red 1995 Ford Explorer without insurance. He remains living in South Anchorage. A charge filed by the city of Anchorage later notes that Santiago admitted to the offense.

Dec. 12, 2015

The driving without insurance charge is dismissed.

Dec. 30, 2015

Santiago signs a “notice of change of mailing address” in a city criminal case, listing his address as an Anchorage post office box.

By this time, Santiago was no longer living at the mobile home at 1200 W. Dimond Boulevard, according to the current occupants.

Jan. 10, 2016

The city files a two-count criminal charge against Santiago, accusing him of property damage and domestic violence assault. The charges say Santiago kicked or forced a door open and frightened his girlfriend, yelling at her while she was in the bathroom. The charges say Santiago forced his way in the bathroom, breaking the door and door frame.

“(The girlfriend) stated that he continued to yell at her ‘get the f--- out bitch,’ while strangling her and smacking her in the side of the head,” according to an Anchorage police officer’s account. The officer wrote that he saw no physical injuries on the woman.

Feb. 17, 2016

Santiago is accused of violating the conditions of his release. Police say he had been ordered not to have any contact with the victim in the previous case, but that police found Santiago at her residence on the 1300 block of Medfra Street.

Santiago admitted that he had been living at the home since about Jan. 17, according to the charges.

Online Alaska court records show that the assault charge was dismissed, but municipal prosecutor Seneca A. Theno said that is incorrect.

Theno said the charge of violating conditions of release was dropped in exchange for Santiago agreeing to plead no contest to the domestic violence assault and criminal mischief charges.

Feb. 23, 2016

According to APD Chief Chris Tolley, "On February 23, (there was) a violation of conditions of release. Mr. Santiago was restricted from his Medfra Street address. During a compliance check, officers found him there, arrested and remanded (him.)"

March 18, 2016

APD responded to a "physical disturbance" involving Santiago, but police were not able to establish probable cause for an arrest, Tolley said.

Oct. 15, 2016

Anchorage police responded to a domestic violence physical disturbance involving Santiago, said Tolley, and officers investigated. However, the municipal prosecutor did not give authorization to make an arrest.

Oct. 21, 2016

Santiago was involved in another physical disturbance, and there was an "allegation of strangulation," Tolley said. Again, officers did not establish probable cause or make an arrest.