By Steve Neavling
Armed with a loaded handgun, Esteban Santiago walked into an FBI office in Anchorage, Alaska, two months ago and said he had “terroristic thoughts” and was being forced by the CIA to watch ISIS videos.
The FBI handed him to local police, and he was taken to a mental health facility and his handgun was seized, NBC News reports.
Four days later, police returned his gun, and Santiago was a free man.
Last week, Santiago opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale airport, killing five people and wounding eight.
If the FBI took the threat more seriously, Santiago may have never carried out the shooting.
But FBI officials counter that Santiago’s interactions in Alaska were a routine reality for the bureau, occurring nearly every day.
“Guidelines governing the evaluation of potential terrorist threats need to be adjusted so that the FBI has greater flexibility when assessing the risk posed by someone who has been brought to their attention,” said John Cohen, a Rutgers University professor and former counter terrorism coordinator at the Department of Homeland. “Behavioral assessment protocols and threat management strategies have proven highly effective in preventing assassinations school shootings and other acts of violence, and those same tools should be available on a consistent basis to counter terrorism investigators.”