Cincinnati gunman who killed three once lived in suburban Lake Worth

The gunman fatally shot by Cincinnati police Thursday after he killed three people at a downtown office building once lived in Palm Beach County and was twice arrested here, according to local law-enforcement records. 

Omar Santa-Perez, 29, lived in the Lake Worth area in 2012 when the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office arrested him on two misdemeanor offenses, both for marijuana possession.

He also received traffic citations for making an improper turn and driving a vehicle in unsafe condition.

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It was not immediately clear how long Santa-Perez lived in Palm Beach County, but a Palm Beach State College spokeswoman said Friday that Santa-Perez was a student there from the spring of 2011 through the spring of 2012. She declined to comment on whether he faced any disciplinary action from the college, citing student privacy laws.

Police records indicate that he was a student living in the Congress Park Apartments just west of the college’s main campus in suburban Lake Worth at the time of his two 2012 arrests.

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No one answered knocks on the door Friday afternoon at the apartment listed as Santa-Perez’s former address. 

However, a woman working in the community’s main office said she knew of Santa-Perez. The woman, who asked that her name not be used, said his mother lived in the apartment and that Santa-Perez often visited and stayed there.

The woman said she could not vouch for Santa-Perez’s character but described his mother as friendly and outgoing. 

Santa-Perez was a U.S. citizen who was born in Puerto Rico. According to reports, he attended high school in Anderson, S.C., and had lived in the Cincinnati area since 2015. 

Multiple reports Friday indicate Santa-Perez had a troubled history, and court records show he was recommended for a mental-health evaluation on at least one occasion while he lived in South Florida.

According to Palm Beach County records, a judge granted a December 2010 petition by one of Santa-Perez’s relatives to have him detained involuntarily under the state’s Baker Act law. 

Also, in October 2010, police in the Broward County city of Coconut Creek charged Santa-Perez with disorderly conduct and obstructing a law-enforcement officer with violence. Like the marijuana possession arrests, both offenses were misdemeanors. 

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According to a Coconut Creek police report, Santa-Perez’s 2010 arrest came after he refused to leave what’s now the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek in the early hours of Oct. 29.

A casino police officer told city investigators he’d asked Santa-Perez to leave because the man was “not behaving normally, continuing to laugh and talk to himself, while making random spontaneous utterances.”

The casino reported that Santa-Perez returned to the parking lot at about 6 that morning and “was acting dysfunctional and sporadically laughing.”

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A Coconut Creek officer reported that Santa-Perez refused when the officer asked him to leave. He would not remove his right hand from his pocket and was handcuffed as officers feared for their safety.  

Santa-Perez pleaded guilty in January 2011. A judge withheld adjudication and ordered the case transferred to the courts' mental health division.

Both of Santa-Perez’s Palm Beach County arrests were resolved without incident. Court records show he was ordered to pay court costs and served no jail time after he  pleaded guilty to a July 2012 marijuana possession charge. Drug and traffic charges stemming from a March 2012 arrest were later dropped, according to court records.

Ohio authorities say Santa-Perez entered a downtown Cincinnati building Thursday, opening fire and killing three people in the city’s busy Fountain Square area.

Police exchanged gunfire with the gunman, striking and killing him in the process. 

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac told reporters that Santa-Perez was armed with a legally purchased 9 mm semi-automatic pistol. Mayor John Cranley told reporters that the gunman appeared to target people at random.

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Thursday’s shootings followed federal lawsuits that Santa-Perez had filed this year in Ohio. The lawsuits alleged that the television network MSNBC had hacked his bank account and home computer and then broadcasted personal information about him on its news shows. A judge said that “bordered on delusional" and recommended his lawsuit be tossed, according to records. 

In a case filed in December, Santa-Perez demanded MSNBC's parent, NBCUniversal, and his personal bank, TD Ameritrade, pay punitive damages of $5.1 million.

In the filing, which Santa-Perez made without a lawyer, he claimed MSNBC "assassinated the character through its slanderous commentaries." He added he was “also seeking peace of mind from future eavesdropping, surveillance and retaliation" and asked the defendants to delete whatever information they had collected. 

A federal judge dismissed that case in June, saying Santa-Perez hadn’t promptly responded to defense motions to dismiss the matter. He then re-filed.

In the new case, filed June 20, he claimed that in early 2017, he'd begun communicating with a girl on social media, and that as the two exchanged text messages, he watched on TV as MSNBC began reporting an inquiry which, with each ensuing segment, "offered new leads to the identity of a guy." 

Eventually, Santa-Perez wrote, MSNBC revealed the "guy" was him. 

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Later, he alleged, MSNBC, "uncovering past faults to smear him," eventually "expanded into dark events of Plaintiff's." He said MSNBC "broadcasted the ownership of pornographic material with slanderous onslaught following." He said MSNBC and its sister network, CNBC, even tapped into his audio speakers and digital cameras. 

On June 25, a federal judge ruled the Santa-Perez' new complaint "is rambling, difficult to decipher, and borders on the delusional" and recommended it be dismissed. 

The same day, Santa-Perez asked that the federal court provide him a lawyer. And the following day, he asked for a hearing "to make way for the process of court proceeding," That was the last filing in the case.

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