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Fort Lauderdale airport shooting suspect enters plea

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The suspect in the South Florida airport shooting spree in which five people were killed and six were wounded has pleaded not guilty.

Esteban Santiago, 26, is charged in a 22-count federal indictment for the Jan. 6 shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Santiago entered a plea of not guilty to those charges during a Monday arraignment.

In court on Monday, a judge read each count and asked after each one if Santiago understood. He replied “yes” every time, reports CBS News’ Manuel Bojorquez. At the end of the hearing, his public defender told the judge Santiago pleads “not guilty” to all charges and demands a jury trial.

Santiago charges including causing death or bodily harm at an international airport, causing death during a crime of violence and using a firearm during a crime of violence. Santiago could face the death penalty if convicted. 

The FBI says Santiago flew from Anchorage, Alaska, to Fort Lauderdale with a handgun in checked luggage. Authorities say he loaded the gun in a bathroom and came out firing in a baggage claim area.

During a hearing earlier this month, an FBI agent confirmed that the 9 mm gun used in the rampage is the same weapon Anchorage, Alaska, police seized and later returned to Santiago last year.   

The gun was seized in November after Santiago walked into an FBI field office and said the federal government was controlling his mind and forcing him to watch Islamic State videos, authorities said.  

The agent testified Santiago voluntarily agreed to a psychiatric evaluation, spent a day at a hospital and then was admitted to a psychiatric institute for 5 days. He was interviewed by the FBI a second time when he retrieved the gun at the Anchorage police department, the agent said.

The agent also testified that Santiago mentioned after the shooting that he was under government mind control.