Saudi aviation student was gunman in Florida navy base attack – official

Assailant, who was second lieut in Saudi air force, is among four killed during incident

Officials said authorities were investigating whether the attack at the naval air station (Nas) in Pensacola, Florida was terrorism-related. Photograph:  Patrick Nichols/US navy/AFP via Getty

Officials said authorities were investigating whether the attack at the naval air station (Nas) in Pensacola, Florida was terrorism-related. Photograph: Patrick Nichols/US navy/AFP via Getty

 

An aviation student from Saudi Arabia opened fire in a classroom building at the naval air station (Nas) in Pensacola, Florida, on Friday morning, a US official said, an attack that left three dead in addition to the assailant.

The assault was the second at a US navy base this week and 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 officials said authorities were investigating whether the attack was terrorism-related.

US president Donald Trump tweeted that he had been fully briefed on the incident. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time. We are continuing to monitor the situation as the investigation is ongoing,” the president said.

The US navy confirmed that three deaths had occurred in the incident that unfolded on Friday morning as witnesses reported hearing gunfire. Map: Datawrapper
The US navy confirmed that three deaths had occurred in the incident that unfolded on Friday morning as witnesses reported hearing gunfire. Map: Datawrapper

Trump added that Saudi leader King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had called him to express his condolences. “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,” Mr Trump said.

Eleven people were shot in total, including two sheriff’s deputies who were the first to respond, one of whom killed the shooter, the Escambia county sheriff, David Morgan, said. One of the deputies was shot in the arm and the other in the knee, and both were expected to recover, he said.

The base remained closed until further notice and those still there would be evacuated when authorities decided it was safe to do so, Kinsella said.

Training facility

Lucy Samford (31) said her husband, a navy reservist and civilian worker on the base, was about 500 yards from where the shooting happened. She said she got a call from him a little after 7am and “one of the first things out of his mouth was: ‘I love you. Tell the kids I love them. I just want you to know there’s an active shooter on base’. ”

Her husband, whom she declined to identify, later told her he was OK.

Nas Pensacola employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel, according to its website. One of the navy’s most historic and storied bases, it sprawls along the waterfront south-west of downtown Pensacola and dominates the economy of the surrounding area.

Part of the Pensacola base resembles a college campus, with buildings where 60,000 members of the navy, marines, air force and coast guard receive training each year in multiple fields of aviation.

Alex McGinley, a tattoo artist who works near the Pensacola base, said he was alerted to the shooting by one of his clients, most of whom are military personnel. He said none of his clients was among those shot. – Guardian