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Army National Guardsman, Iraq War Vet Is Suspect in Airport Shootings

  • People take cover behind vehicles at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
    People take cover behind vehicles at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
  • People stand on the tarmac at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after a shooter opened fire inside the terminal, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
    People stand on the tarmac at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after a shooter opened fire inside the terminal, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
  • A shooting victim is unloaded from an emergency vehicle and taken into Broward Health Trauma Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. (Taimy Alvarez /South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
    A shooting victim is unloaded from an emergency vehicle and taken into Broward Health Trauma Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. (Taimy Alvarez /South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

An Army National Guard veteran of Iraq was being held Friday as the sole suspect in the Fort Lauderdale airport shootings that killed five, the Pentagon said.

The suspect, identified by police as Esteban Santiago, is a 26-year-old combat veteran who received a general discharge under honorable conditions in August for "continuous and willful absence" from his duties with the Alaska National Guard, a Pentagon spokesman said. His rank was reduced from specialist to private first class upon discharge.

Santiago served with the Puerto Rico National Guard in Iraq from April 2010 to February 2011 as a combat engineer with the 21B military occupational specialty. He was a recipient of the Combat Action Badge, the spokesman said.

Santiago left the Puerto Rico National Guard in 2013 and later re-entered service with the Alaska National Guard, the spokesman said.

Santiago allegedly retrieved a weapon he had put in checked baggage and opened fire in a terminal at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Friday, killing at least five people and injuring eight. He was quickly taken into custody.

Police did not give a motive for the shootings but said Santiago is believed to have acted alone.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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Veterans National Guard Army Iraq