“Like a month ago, it was like he lost his mind,” Santiago’s aunt told reporters from Union City, N.J., Friday. “He said he saw things.” According to theLos Angeles Times, Santiago welcomed a son less than four months ago, but his mental condition began soon after started deteriorating. Sources claim the vet had run-ins with the law previously.
Santiago was formerly a member of the Alaska Army National Guard and left the organization for “unsatisfactory performance” in August 2016, a National Guard spokeswoman confirmed to the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in Florida. “He is no longer a member of our organization,” said Lt. Col. Candis A. Olmstead, who added that she could not elaborate on the reason for his discharge. “Information on disciplinary actions [is] not releasable,” she said.
A federal law enforcement source said Santiago had complained of being forced to fight for the militant group Islamic State and that his mind was being controlled by a U.S. spy agency.
Santiago allegedly was causing disturbances at home, too. Last January, Santiago was arrested and charged with assault stemming from an incident with his girlfriend. According to the court documents, police said he had been yelling at her through a locked bathroom door. After busting through the door, he allegedly began striking her and strangling her.
Santiago is currently in custody after the attack, which left five people dead and eight others wounded. Police believe he flew to Ft. Lauderdale from Anchorage, Alaska specifically to carry out the attack.