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US Naval Air Station shooter was Saudi student – US official

World News | Published: | Last Updated:

The shooting is the second at a US naval base this week.

Naval Air Station Shooting

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 two US officials.

US President Donald Trump tweeted his condolences to the victims’ families and noted he had received a phone call from Saudi King Salman.

Mr Trump declined to say whether the shooting was terrorism-related.

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”.

The Saudi government offered condolences to the victims and their families and said it would provide “full support” to US authorities investigating the shooting.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirms that the perpetrator of this horrific attack does not represent the Saudi people whatsoever,” the government said in a statement. “The American people are held in the highest regard by the Saudi people.”

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Naval Air Station Shooting
Emergency responders near the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola (WEAR-TV via AP)

Saudi Arabia has relied on the US to train its military.

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.

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

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.

Naval Air Station Shooting
Police vehicles blocked the entrance to the Pensacola Air Base (Tony Giberson/ Pensacola News Journal via AP)

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 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 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 Harbour, Hawaii, opened fire on three civilian employees on Wednesday, killing two before taking his own life.

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