Mon, 20 Jan 2020

Saudi National Officially Identified as US Naval Base Shooter

Voice of America
08 Dec 2019, 16:05 GMT+10

The FBI has officially identified the shooter at the U.S. naval base in Pensacola, Florida who shot and killed three people Friday.

The shooter was Mohammed Alshamrani, a 21-year-old second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force who was a student naval flight officer at the Naval Aviation Schools Command at Naval Air Station Pensacola. The FBI has not determined a motive for Alshamrani's rampage.

The victims were also students at the flight school. They have been identified as Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, from Coffee, Alabama; Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, 19, from St. Petersburg, Florida; and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, 21, from Richmond Hill, Georgia.

"The sorrow from the tragic event on NAS Pensacola will have a lasting impact on our installation and community," Captain Tim Kinsella, the commanding officer of the naval base said in a statement.

Eight people were wounded in the shooting naval base, officials say.

The shooter, who was also killed in the incident, is reported to have hosted a dinner party earlier in the week where he showed videos of mass U.S. shootings to his guests, according to media reports. At least one of his guests is reported to have videotaped Friday's massacre. Several Saudi students are being held for questioning.

Before the pilot opened fire at the base, he tweeted a will and quoted Osama bin Laden in justifying his actions, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which translates jihadist threats and communications.

In the Twitter post, he said America "has turned into a nation of evil." He condemned the U.S. for its support of Israel and its invasion of Muslim countries and many other countries. Using a bin Laden quote, he also said that the security of the U.S. and Muslims is a "shared destiny." He added, "You will not be safe until we live it as reality in pleastain [sic], and American troops get our of lands."

Guns are not permitted at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, but Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said the shooter managed to get a handgun onto the base before targeting individuals at one of the buildings. Officials said the rampage ended when a sheriff's deputy cornered and shot the suspect in a classroom.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the nature of the investigation would be different due to the involvement of the Saudi air force pilot.

"There is obviously going to be a lot of questions about this individual being a foreign national, being a part of the Saudi air force," he told reporters.

"The government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims," he added. "They are going to owe a debt here, given that this was one of their individuals."

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that he had been in contact with Saudi King Salman, who offered condolences.

"The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter," Trump said.

Later, Trump told reporters at the White House, "It's a horrible thing that took place and we're getting to the bottom of it."

In a statement, Salman called the shooting a "heinous crime" and said he expressed his sorrow over the attack in his phone call with Trump. The king said he has directed Saudi security services to cooperate with American agencies to uncover information that will help determine the cause of the "horrific attack."

Hours after the shooting at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, a bomb threat at Patrick Air Force Base, also in Florida, forced authorities to evacuate parts of the base. Authorities later determined there was "no credible threat" and normal base operation resumed.

The shooting at the Pensacola Naval Air Station is the second deadly shooting at a U.S. naval facility in the week.

A U.S. sailor shot three civilians at a base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Wednesday, killing two of them before committing suicide.

In a response to both shootings, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement Friday, "The Department of Defense continues to monitor the situation in Pensacola and gather all the facts of each attack."

He said he is "considering several steps to ensure the security of our military installations and the safety of our service members and their families."

"These acts are crimes against all of us," Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said in a statement.

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