Aug. 18 (UPI) — A man who shot five people dead at the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., airport last year was sentenced Friday to five consecutive life terms for the mass shooting attack.
U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom, who called the massacre “85 seconds of evil,” read the names and described the lives of the five dead and six injured before imposing the sentence to Esteban Santiago. He was given the life terms for each of the dead plus 120 years for the injured.
The 28-year-old Iraq war veteran said nothing during sentencing, which included family members giving impact statements describing the scope of their loss.
“We did not get a chance to say goodbye,” said Melissa Beauchamp, the daughter of victim Mary Louise Amzibel.
“We did not get a chance to say we love you. Nothing is the same as before. … Because of your poor choices, I no longer have a mother, my best friend.”
Santiago was discharged from the Army in 2016 for “unsatisfactory performance,” and had been living in Anchorage, Alaska, prior to the Jan. 7, 2017, attack.
Santiago opened fire in a baggage claim area of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, which is one of the nation’s busiest. Before Friday’s sentencing, he pleaded guilty in exchange for avoiding a potential death penalty.
Eric Cohen, a federal public defender representing Santiago, said his client was diagnosed with schizophrenia, experiencing psychotic symptoms and thought voices were sending him messages.
“There is nothing we can do to make the pain go away,” Cohen said. “Although he committed a horrible act, there are indications he is not a horrible person.”