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Why Is Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief Disclosing Details About Fort Lauderdale Airport Attack Investigation?

Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief continues to disclose details regarding the investigation of the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL) attack. On Friday, Esteban Ruiz Santiago shot and killed 5 travelers in the baggage claim area of terminal two. Federal officials have charged Santiago with multiple felonies including murder. Santiago could face the death penalty.

In the criminal complaint, FBI agent Michael Ferlazzo provides details on Friday’s attack. Santiago flew on a one-way ticket from Alaska to Fort Lauderdale on Delta Airlines. His only luggage was a checked case containing the weapon he used to kill his victims. After he was arrested and received his Miranda warning, Santiago told investigators he retrieved his case, went to a bathroom stall and loaded his weapon. He placed his weapon in his waistband and exited the bathroom. At approximately 12:56pm, Santiago pulled his weapon and opened fire. 

According to the compliant, Santiago admitted to planning his attack. He said he reloaded his Walther 9mm handgun once. Santiago believes he fired fifteen rounds.
FBI agents Ferlazzo states video surveillance of the attack exists and will be reviewed by investigators.

And that’s it. The official criminal complaint contains no more details about the ongoing investigation.


On Sunday evening, Mayor Barbara Sharief revealed what appears to be a significant detail about the investigation to WSVN/Fox.  Sharief said, “I heard that there were…connections to south Florida. Not Fort Lauderdale specifically. They just said south Florida possibly Miami.” Sharief went on to say Santiago visited, “Close friends or family.” When asked if he visited friends or family, Sharief said, “I’m not sure.”

Why is Mayor Sharief saying anything if she’s “not sure.”

In a early morning tweet on Sunday, Sharief told REDBROWARD, “As Mayor of Broward’s 1.9 million residents & visitors I must keep them informed.”

But REDBROWARD reported how Sharief created massive confusion on Friday in an attempt to share information. 

Mayor Barbara Sharief repeatedly gave confusing information to CNN.  Around 6:00pm, Sharief told anchor Wolf Blitzer questions remained whether the suspect in custody was the real Esteban Santiago even though Senator Bill Nelson identified the suspect on MSNBC four hours earlier. A stunned Blitzer asked Sharief if CNN should stop referring to the suspect as Esteban Santiago.

During the eight o’clock hour, anchor Anderson Cooper referenced Sharief’s doubts in a conversation with a CNN reporter. When she joined Cooper, Mayor Sharief tried to claim she could no longer talk about it, but she again raised doubts. Finally, at 10pm, Sharief told anchor Don Lemon that the suspect was indeed Esteban Santiago. 
Hours before her Sunday television interview, Mayor Sharief blasted the release of video surveillance footage of the FLL attack. TMZ posted a short clip of the attack on its website. 

Sharief told the Associated Press, “Only a select number of people had access to this video….What’s troubling about this video being out there is we don’t want copycats.”

According to the Palm Beach Post, Sharief said the leak of the video was a “distraction” to federal and local officials investigators. “Our priority needs to be on the actual investigation,” Sharief said.

Somebody needs to tell Mayor Sharief that disseminating wrong information (twice) on the international airwaves of CNN is considered to be a major “distraction.” Imagine the level of distraction federal and local investigators face when Wolf Blitzer calls up to see if they have an impostor in custody.

As for “copycats,” it’s hard to think terrorists need a 30 second clip on TMZ to inspire their murderous acts. More troubling is notion that Sharief’s comments to WSVN may have tipped off Santiago’s “friends” that the FBI knows about them and the visits. Let’s hope they get their news from a competing station.

The best way Mayor Sharief can serve her 1.9 million Broward residents and visitors is to stay off the television and let law enforcement handle the investigation.

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