Esteban Santiago (sometimes referred to as Esteban Santiago-Ruiz), the man accused of killing five people and shooting at least 13 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, had a baby boy who had just been born in September and a family who tried to stay in close contact with him, but hadn’t heard from him recently. His family has said that he suffered from mental issues, but he was seeking help. However, the issues were serious, his aunt pointed out, saying that he had been hospitalized for a time. Esteban’s brother told reporters that he believed Esteban was a good, spiritual person, but he may have been suffering from PTSD from his time in Iraq.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Esteban Santiago’s Brother, Bryan Santiago, Said His Brother May Have Suffered from PTSD
Esteban’s brother, Bryan, told NBC News that his brother was just a regular person. “He is a regular person, spiritual, a good person,” he said, adding that he hadn’t talked to his brother for a few weeks. Bryan lives in Puerto Rico and spoke to NBC from there.
Bryan said that his brother was born in New Jersey, but had moved to Puerto Rico, served in the National Guard there for six years, and was in Iraq in 2010 for about a year. He couldn’t imagine his brother committing this crime, he said, and suggested that he might have been suffering from PTSD and had a flashback while in the airport. He said his brother had never been diagnosed with PTSD, but he still believed that might have played a role. He was worried about him because he hadn’t heard from Esteban for a few weeks and that wasn’t normal.
2. Esteban Santiago’s Mom Lives in Puerto Rico and Stayed in Touch with Her Son
Esteban’s mother still lives in Puerto Rico, where Esteban served in the National Guard for six years, his brother Bryan told NBC News. Esteban was born in New Jersey but his parents were both originally from Puerto Rico. Around the age of 2 or 3, his parents moved back to Puerto Rico with Esteban, NJ.com reported. He grew up in Penuelas, a coastal town in Puerto Rico.
3. Esteban Santiago’s Father May Have Died While He Was in Iraq
Esteban’s aunt, Maria Luisa Ruiz, told Telemundo-47 that while Esteban was serving in Iraq, his father died. However, NJ.com reported that his father died shortly after Esteban’s tour, after he had returned to Puerto Rico. Esteban had trouble finding a job after he returned to Puerto Rico. He later moved to Alaska for work.
Maria’s husband, Hernan Rivera, said that Esteban wasn’t doing well after Iraq.
Only thing I could tell you was when he came out of Iraq, he wasn’t feeling too good.”
4. His Aunt Said ‘It Looks Like He Lost His Mind’
Esteban’s aunt, Maria Luisa Ruiz, lives in New Jersey. She told NBC News that Esteban was in the hospital about two months ago.
It looks like he lost his mind. He would say that he would see things.”
She said that Esteban’s mom would often keep her updated on his struggles, including the two weeks he spent in the hospital recently. Maria hadn’t actually seen Esteban for four years, when he spent a week in Union City for Christmas.
5. Esteban’s Girlfriend Recently Gave Birth to a Baby Boy
According to Esteban’s aunt, he recently had a baby boy with his girlfriend, she told NBC News. She said the baby was born in September in Anchorage, Alaska, and she spoke to him after his baby was born; he seemed fine and happy. However, Esteban and his girlfriend argued a lot.
Bryan told the Associated Press that Esteban’s girlfriend had recently called them, alerting them about some of the psychological problems that Esteban had been facing. He wasn’t sure of the details, since he hadn’t spoken to her directly.