A suspected shooter involved in a deadly incident on Friday at a major U.S. Navy base in Florida was believed to be a Saudi national in the United States for training, two US defense officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
On Friday night, Trump tweeted that King Salman of Saudi Arabia called him to “express his sincere condolences and give his sympathies”. Trump added,
“The King said 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.”
The assailant was an aviation student from Saudi Arabia and he opened fire in a classroom building at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola a US official said, reported AP. The assault prompted a massive law enforcement response and a lockdown at the base. The student, who was fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy, was a second lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force, said two US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose information that had not yet been made public.
The first reports of an “active shooter” on the base came through to the Escambia County sheriff’s office at about 6:51 a.m., officials said.
A few minutes later, a sheriff’s deputy fatally shot the shooter in a classroom on the base, Sheriff David Morgan said at a news conference on Friday morning.
“Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie,” Morgan said. He declined to share any details about the suspected shooter’s identity.
The two law enforcement officials, who were not authorized to speak on the record about the investigation, said the suspected shooter was on the base for training but said they could provide no additional information.
Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to questions.
Two sheriff’s deputies were injured, one shot in the arm, the other in the knee, but both were expected to survive, officials said at the news conference.
Eight people were taken to Baptist Hospital for treatment, hospital spokeswoman Kathy Bowers said.
Sheriff’s officials said one of the three victims died after being taken to the hospital, but it was unclear whether that victim was one of the eight who arrived at Baptist. Bowers declined to say.
While military bases house the nation’s most powerful armaments, military personnel normally are restricted from carrying weapons on base unless they are part of their daily duties. Nonetheless U.S. military bases have seen deadly mass shootings before, including one in Ford Hood, Texas, in 2009 that left 13 dead and one at the Washington Navy Yard in 2013 that killed 12.
U.S. President Donald Trump had been briefed and was monitoring the situation, a White House spokesman said.
On Wednesday, a sailor shot three civilians at the historic Pearl Harbor military base in Hawaii, killing two of them before taking his own life.
The Pensacola base, which is near Florida’s border with Alabama, is a major training site for the Navy and home to its aerobatic flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels.
The base employs more than about 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel, according to the base’s website.
Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said at the news conference that the base is “an incredibly important part of our community.” “We’re a military town,” he said. “Our hearts and prayers are connected to all of those that serve us every day.”
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