PENSACOLA: An aviation student from Saudi Arabia opened fire in a classroom building at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola 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 the US official.
Base commander Capt. Tim Kinsella confirmed at a news conference that the shooter was an aviation trainee at the base.
Twelve people were hurt in the attack, including two sheriff’s deputies who were the first to respond, one of whom killed the shooter, 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.
All of the shooting took place in one classroom and the shooter used a handgun, authorities said. Kinsella noted that weapons are not allowed on the base.
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.
President Donald Trump tweeted his condolences to the families of the victims and noted that he had received a phone call from Saudi King Salman. He said the king told him 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.”
King Salman has also ordered Saudi security services to cooperate with the relevant American agencies to obtain information that would help to uncover the circumstances surrounding the shooting incident.
One of the Navy’s most historic and storied bases, Naval Air Station sprawls along the waterfront southwest 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. The base’s training program includes a couple of hundred from countries outside the US, Kinsella said.
The base is home is home to the Blue Angels flight demonstration team, and includes the National Naval Aviation Museum, a popular regional tourist attraction.
The shooting is the second at a US naval base this week. A sailor whose submarine was docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, opened fire on three civilian employees Wednesday, killing two before taking his own life.