A Saudi military pilot who had been training in the U.S. opened fire at a Pensacola, Florida, naval base on Friday morning, killing three people and wounding eight others — including two sheriff’s deputies — in a mass shooting that immediately raised suspicions of terrorism. The man was killed by authorities, bringing the total number of dead to four. NBC News reported that law-enforcement officials identified the shooter as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani.
As of Friday afternoon, details of the incident itself were scarce. Active-shooting reports came in at 6:51 a.m., according to the Washington Post, and the base announced on Facebook about an hour later that the shooter was dead, after engaging in a gun battle with the deputies. The three people who were killed have yet to be identified, and it’s not clear whether they were members of the military or civilians. Pensacola is a major military hub, with 16,000 military members and 7,000 civilians living at Naval Air Station Pensacola, where the shooting took place. The base frequently hosts international pilots for training.
Several outlets reported that authorities were investigating the shooting as a possible terrorist act, but Representative Matt Gaetz, whose district includes the base, seemed not to wait for the facts to come out before reaching a conclusion.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis was not as direct, but said, “Obviously the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims And they’re going to owe a debt here.”
After offering his “thoughts and prayers” to the victims, President Trump, in a pair of conciliatory-sounding tweets, said that he had spoken to King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who he said offered his condolences.
The close U.S.-Saudi relationship has shown major signs of strain in recent years. Most notably, the Obama and Trump administrations’ support for the kingdom’s catastrophic war in Yemen has met with increasing congressional resistance. Months after investigations concluded that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, Congress passed a bill to end U.S. involvement in Yemen altogether — a measure President Trump, who has rarely criticized the Saudi regime, vetoed.