Three people were killed on Friday morning as an aviation student from Saudi Arabia opened fire in a classroom at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida.
The shooting which has been condemned by Saudi government also left many others injured including two sheriff’s deputies who engaged the shooter, though the attacker was killed by a Sheriff’s deputy, U.S. officials are now investigating for possible links to terrorism.
“Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie,” said Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan.
One of the police officers who responded was shot in the arm and the other in the knee, they are both expected to recover.
The shooter was a member of the Saudi military who was in aviation training at the base, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference. He has been identified as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani.
“There’s obviously going to be a lot of questions about this individual being a foreign national, being a part of the Saudi air force and then to be here training on our soil,” said the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis.
“Obviously the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims and I think they’re going to owe a debt here, given that this was one of their individuals,” he added.
The Pentagon told CBS News that the shooter had been in the country since August 2017 pursuant to a U.S. Air Force Foreign Military Sales training case funded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and that he was scheduled to stay until August 2020. He was enrolled in English, basic aviation, and initial pilot training at the station, the Pentagon added.
According to its website the naval airbase, which is still in lockdown, employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel.
“There are many reports circulating, but the FBI deals only in facts,” said Rachel L. Rojas, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the Jacksonville Field Office. “This is still very much an active and ongoing investigation.”
President Donald Trump declined to say whether the shooting was terrorism-related. Trump tweeted his condolences to the families of the victims and noted that he had received a phone call from Saudi King Salman.
He said the king told him that “the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people.”