The Pensacola Naval Air Station predominant gate following a taking pictures on December 06, 2019, in Pensacola, Florida.
Josh Brasted | Getty Photographs
The Saudi pupil who fatally shot three sailors at a U.S. naval base in Florida hosted a cocktail party earlier within the week the place he and three others watched movies of mass shootings, a U.S. official instructed The Related Press on Saturday.
Officers investigating the lethal assault have been working Saturday to find out whether or not it was motivated by terrorism, whereas President Donald Trump indicated he would evaluation insurance policies governing overseas army coaching in america.
The Navy on Saturday recognized the three victims and hailed them as heroes for attempting to cease the shooter and flagging down first responders after being shot.
“The Sailors that misplaced their lives within the line of responsibility and confirmed distinctive heroism and bravado within the face of evil,” Capt. Tim Kinsella, the commanding officer of Naval Air Station Pensacola, mentioned in a statement. “When confronted, they did not run from hazard; they ran in direction of it and saved lives.”
The shooter opened hearth inside a classroom on the naval base on Friday, killing three folks and wounding two sheriff’s deputies, one within the arm and one within the knee, earlier than one of many deputies killed him. Eight others have been additionally harm. Each deputies have been anticipated to outlive.
The official who spoke Saturday mentioned one of many three college students who attended the feast hosted by the attacker recorded video exterior the classroom constructing whereas the taking pictures was going down. Two different Saudi college students watched from a automobile, the official mentioned.
Ten Saudi college students have been being held on the bottom Saturday whereas a number of others have been unaccounted for, mentioned the official, who spoke on situation of anonymity after being briefed by federal authorities.
Officer in Royal Saudi Air Power
The FBI recognized the shooter in an announcement Saturday night time as Mohammed Alshamrani, 21. Investigators mentioned he was a 2nd Lt. within the Royal Saudi Air Power and was a pupil naval flight officer of Naval Aviation Colleges Command. A U.S. official on Friday mentioned the FBI was analyzing social media posts and investigating whether or not he acted alone or was related to any broader group. The official wasn’t approved to debate the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on situation of anonymity.
Two U.S. officers mentioned Friday that authorities have been investigating whether or not the assault was terrorism-related. They spoke on situation of anonymity to reveal data that had not but been made public.
In remarks at a gathering of prime U.S. protection and army officers on Saturday, Protection Secretary Mark Esper was requested whether or not he might say definitively that the taking pictures was an act of terrorism.
“No, I am unable to say it is terrorism right now,” he mentioned, including that the investigation must proceed. He declined to debate particulars of the investigation to this point.
President Trump additionally declined to say whether or not the taking pictures was terrorism-related. The president tweeted his condolences to the households of the victims on Friday and famous that Saudi King Salman had reassured him in a phone name that the shooter “by no means form or kind represents the emotions of the Saudi folks.”
However in feedback echoing these made earlier by Esper, Trump mentioned Saturday that he would evaluation insurance policies governing overseas army coaching within the U.S.
The U.S. has lengthy had a strong coaching program for Saudis, offering help within the U.S. and within the kingdom. At present, greater than 850 Saudis are in america for numerous coaching actions. They’re amongst greater than 5,000 overseas college students from 153 nations within the U.S. going by way of army coaching.
“This has been accomplished for a lot of a long time,” Trump mentioned. “I suppose we will need to look into the entire process. We’ll begin that instantly.”
Talking on the Ronald Reagan Nationwide Protection Discussion board in Simi Valley, California, on Saturday, Esper and others downplayed any preliminary affect on U.S.-Saudi ties.
Requested whether or not he would now hesitate to ship U.S. forces to Saudi Arabia, he mentioned, “No, in no way.” He mentioned the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have shared safety pursuits, particularly with regard to Iran.
The taking pictures has shined a light-weight on the generally rocky relationship between the 2 nations, nonetheless.
Follows Saudi killing of journalist Khashoggi
The dominion remains to be attempting to get well from the killing final 12 months of Washington Put up columnist Jamal Khashoggi on the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Saudi intelligence officers and a forensic physician killed and dismembered Khashoggi on Oct. 2, 2018, simply as his fiancée waited exterior the diplomatic mission.
Naval Air Station Pensacola is without doubt one of the Navy’s most historic and storied bases. It sprawls alongside the waterfront southwest of the town’s downtown and dominates the economic system of the encircling space.
A part of the bottom resembles a university campus, with buildings the place, along with overseas college students, 60,000 members of the U.S. Navy, Marines, Air Power and Coast Guard practice every year in a number of fields of aviation.
Kinsella mentioned the bottom would stay closed till additional discover.
Residents of Pensacola mourned the assaults and provided their condolences to affected members of the group.
Relations on Saturday recognized one of many victims as a 23-year-old recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who alerted first responders to the place the shooter was even after he had been shot a number of instances.
“Joshua Kaleb Watson saved numerous lives at present together with his personal,” his older brother Adam Watson wrote on Fb. “He died a hero and we’re past proud.”
A second sufferer was recognized as Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, 19, of St. Petersburg, Florida, who joined the Navy after graduating from highschool final 12 months, in accordance with the Tampa Bay Times.
Haitham’s mom, Evelyn Brady, herself a Navy veteran, mentioned the commander of her son’s college referred to as her and instructed her Haitham had tried to cease the shooter.
The previous observe and subject star had been assigned to flight crew coaching and was trying ahead to graduating from this system later this month, Brady mentioned.
“He mentioned he was going to get his flight jacket for Christmas,” she mentioned. “Now that is not going to occur.”
The Navy recognized the third sufferer as Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, 21, of Richmond Hill, Georgia. All three have been college students at Naval Aviation Colleges Command.
The taking pictures is the second at a U.S. naval base in a single week. A sailor whose submarine was docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, opened hearth on three civilian staff Wednesday, killing two earlier than taking his personal life.