Active Shooter At Pensacola Naval Base Was Aviation Student From Saudi Arabia
Pensacola, FL – The shooter who murdered three people and wounded seven other victims at the Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola on Friday morning was an aviation student from Saudi Arabia, according to a U.S. official.
Sources have identified the gunman as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, according to NBC News.
Investigators are currently working determine whether the attack was an act of terrorism, the Associated Press reported.
President Donald Trump said he received a phone call from Saudi Arabia's King Mohammed bin Salman in the wake of the attack, according to the Washington Examiner.
"King Salman of Saudi Arabia just called to express his sincere condolences and give his sympathies to the families and friends of the warriors who were killed and wounded in the attack that took place in Pensacola, Florida," Trump said.
"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 President added.
The gunman opened fire inside a classroom building on the Naval Air Station Pensacola base just after 6:30 a.m., U.S. Navy Captain Timothy Kinsella told reporters during a press conference on Friday morning.
The shooting occurred at Building 633, which is a heavily-occupied building near the center of the base, U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz told WEAR.
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said that deputies were dispatched to the scene at 6:51 a.m., and the first two deputies arrived within minutes, with many more who followed.
The law enforcement officers engaged in a shootout with the unnamed gunman inside one of the classrooms, Sheriff Morgan said.
The shooter was armed with a handgun, the sheriff told reporters on Friday afternoon.
Two Escambia County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) deputies were shot during the exchange of gunfire.
One deputy was struck in the knee, and the second deputy was hit in the arm.
Both are expected to recover.
The gunman was fatally shot by one of the wounded deputies at approximately 7:45 a.m., WEAR reported.
A total of 11 people were wounded during the mass shooting, ECSO Chief Deputy Chip Simmons said during the press conference.
Eight were transported to Baptist Hospital, and one of those victims has succumbed to his or her wounds.
Three other people – including the gunman – died at the scene.
Lucy Samford told the Associated Press that she received a call from her Navy reservist husband just after 7 a.m.
He estimated he was about 500 yards away from where the shooting occurred.
“I love you. Tell the kids I love them,” he said, according to Samford. “I just want you to know there’s an active shooter on base.”
Samford’s husband was uninjured in the attack.
Although the base remains on lockdown, officials stressed that they have no reason to believe there is any ongoing threat.
Sheriff Morgan explained that law enforcement officers are still working to notify the family members of the deceased and wounded victims, and refused to release additional details about the ongoing investigation as a result.
“We ask for the prayers of the community and the assistance of the press – please be patient,” the sheriff said. “We have grieving families at this moment.”
Sheriff Morgan noted that he "could not be more proud" of the law enforcement officers who responded to the active shooter situation.
"They ran to the fight - not from the fight," he reiterated.
Capt. Kinsella would not comment regarding whether the incident is being considered as an act of terrorism.
“Our heart goes out to those affected by this tragedy,” Capt. Kinsella said during the press conference. “They are a part of the Navy family.”
He also praised fellow law enforcement agencies who responded to the active shooter situation.
“It could have been a lot worse if we didn’t have the assistance we had from our community partners,” Capt. Kinsella added.
Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said that the Florida governor’s office and White House have offered any assistance that might be needed.
“We’re a military town,” Robinson said during the press conference. “All of our sympathies are out here with the women and men here on the base.”
Gaetz told WEAR that the Pensacola base is the “home of naval aviation.”
“This is who we are. This is what we love, and its why our hearts break today,” he said. “I want to specially thank the first responders [and] the members of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, who were active on the scene, and who did everything they could to limit casualties and neutralize the shooter.”
Capt. Kinsella said he was “very proud” of the joint law enforcement and military response to the incident.
Over 16,000 military personnel and 7,400 civilian personnel are employed at the NAS Pensacola base, according to the Associated Press
Approximately 60,000 military members train at the facility every year.
It is also the home of the National Naval Aviation Museum, as well as the Blue Angels flight team, the Associated Press reported.