4 Dead, 8 Wounded in NAS Pensacola Shooting
Authorities have identified the shooter in Friday morning’s attack aboard NAS Pensacola as an aviation student from Saudi Arabia. The shooting is being investigated as to whether it was terrorism-related.
Several law enforcement sources identify the gunman as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani – a 2nd Lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force. Twelve people were shot – four are dead, including the shooter, and eight are undergoing treatment at Baptist Hospital. A handgun was used in the attack. The base remains closed, according to its public affairs office.
“This has been a very, very difficult day for us, for our families and the Navy family here; the days ahead are going to be difficult when it finally sinks in what’s happened here. The most important thing going forward for us is to support the families. They are family – they’re our family – we’re family here at the Department of the Navy,” said base commander Capt. Tim Kinsella.
Kinsella also praises the first responders – both military and civilian – who answered the call just before 7:00 Friday morning, calling it “real heroism.”
“I’m devastated; we’re in shock, this is surreal,” said Kinsella. “But I couldn’t be prouder to wear the uniform that I wear. We practice; this is part of our training, our master at arms and civilian [Department of Defense] along with Escambia County Sheriff’s Department and Pensacola Police Department. We train to active-shooter scenarios regularly. We never expect it, but we train for it.”
After hearing about the shooting, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came to NAS.
“This is a dark day for a very great place; I think it not only strikes at the heart of the community here at [sic] Northwest Florida, but throughout the Navy, nationwide, and really around the world,” said the Gov. “Because there are so many people that have been involved with this base in one way or another.”
DeSantis – a Navy veteran – told reporters that the White House is monitoring developments, and that the state of Florida has sent help.
“Our Department of Emergency Management has sent a mental health coordinator to talk to any of the witnesses, any of the victims, the families, and offer any support they can get,” said DeSantis. “Department of Children and Families has sent a mobile response team to the hospital.”
There’s no official word yet on motive, but the governor says there will be some questions about Alshamrani being a foreign national and a member of the Saudi Air Force training at NAS.
“One of the things I talked to the president about is the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims,” said DeSantis. “I think they’re going to owe a debt here, given that this was one of their individuals.”
Employees and visitors aboard the base were evacuated at mid-morning after a long lockdown. Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said the case has morphed into “recovery mode,” and gave the media a heads-up: this will be a lengthy investigation.
“Do not expect quick answers; there’s going to be some parts of the investigation that not only we’re a part of, but you may never have access to just because of the nature of the case and who we’re dealing with,” said Morgan. “We’re going to tell you what you need to know; we’re going to get there. Give us a little bit of time and we’ll provide all of the answers that we can for you.”
“I think the world of our base commander, Capt. Kinsella; who always says ‘as goes the base, so goes and town and as goes the town so goes the base,’ said Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson.
“This is a sad day but I also think this is also a community of great resiliency,” Robinson said. “And I’m confident that both NAS and the city of Pensacola will bounce back from this day and be stronger. And [I] certainly want to thank all of our first responders. Because you never know when you’re going to have a day like December 6.”
Of the aviation students who train at NAS Pensacola, about 100 of them are from allied nations, said Capt. Tim Kinsella.
“We have students from several different countries and come here; it’s something we’ve been doing for quite a while with our partner nations,” Kinsella said. “The cross-pollination and cross-training we do with our allies is something that we did for a long time. In World War II we had [British] Royal Air Force folks who were training here. There’s always been international students; it’s a good place to train and it’s good-quality training.”
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud expressed his "deep sadness and sorrow" about the shooting, in a phone call with President Donald Trump on Friday.