/Pensacola shooting an ‘act of terrorism’ by Saudi national, Gaetz says

Pensacola shooting an ‘act of terrorism’ by Saudi national, Gaetz says

The entrance to the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla | AP Photo

The entrance to the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla. | AP Photo

12/06/2019 09:11 AM EST

Updated 12/06/2019 02:40 PM EST


TALLAHASSEE — The gunman in a shooting at the Naval Air Station Pensacola was a member of the Saudi military attending flight training at the facility.

The shooter, who was killed by sheriff deputies arriving on the scene, was attending aviation training at the facility, Capt. Timothy Kinsella, commanding officer at the Pensacola naval base, said at a press conference Friday.

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The involvement of a Saudia Arabian national has given a new dimension to the violence, with lawmakers calling for accountability and raising accusations of terrorism.

“This was not a murder. This was an act of terrorism,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) wrote on Twitter. The base is in Gaetz‘s congressional district and employs 16,000 military personnel and 7,400 civilians.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he told President Donald Trump that the “the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims.”

“They are going to owe a debt here given that this was one of their individuals,” DeSantis told reporters.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud called to express his “sincere condolences,” Trump tweeted.

“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,” Trump wrote.

Four people, including the gunman, are confirmed dead and several others have been hospitalized. The deputies arriving first at the scene were among the eight people injured. One was shot in the arm and another in the knee. Both are expected to survive their injuries, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said.

Law enforcement initially had reported that 11 people were injured.

The shooting was the third at a Navy facility in a week. A Navy master-at-arms is dead after a gate runner struck a security vehicle entering Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Va., on Nov. 30.

On Wednesday, two civilian employees of the Defense Department were killed by a shooter at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, near Honolulu. The shooter, an active-duty sailor, took his own life.

“These acts are crimes against all of us,” acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly said in a written statement. “Our prayers are with the families of the fallen and with the wounded. It is our solemn duty to find the causes of such tragic loss and ceaselessly work together to prevent them.“

In Pensacola, the Escambia sheriff‘s office received a report of an active shooter at 6:51 a.m. Friday. Two deputies dispatched to the scene killed the shooter, Morgan said at a press conference.

“This does not happen in Escambia County. It does not happen in Pensacola,” Morgan said. “But it did, and it has.”

Kinsella said the shooting occurred in a classroom building but did not give specific details. The base is a training site and nearly all of its structures are classroom-type facilities. The site has long hosted international students from allied militaries.

“We have students from several different countries that come here,” Kinsella said.

White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said President Donald Trump has been briefed and is monitoring the situation. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is en route to Pensacola, according to a spokesperson.

Morgan said his department is working with state and federal law enforcement.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam will hold its annual Pearl Harbor commemoration on Thursday.

Bryan Bender contributed to this report.

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