Florida naval base shooting being treated as 'act of terrorism' by FBI

8 December 2019, 19:35 | Updated: 8 December 2019, 19:36

Police vehicles block the entrance to Naval Air Station Pensacola
Police vehicles block the entrance to Naval Air Station Pensacola. Picture: PA

By Megan White

A fatal shooting at a Florida naval base carried out by a Saudi Arabian aviation student is being treated as an act of terrorism, according to the FBI.

Three people were killed and ten injured after the student, named as 2nd Lieutenant Mohammed Alshamrani, of the Royal Saudi Air Force, opened fire in a classroom.

The 21-year-old was a flight student at Naval Air Station Pensacola, where members of foreign militaries are routinely trained by the US, when the attack took place on Friday.

The victims were named as sailors Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, Mohammed Sameh Haitham, 19, and Cameron Scott Walters, 21.

A vigil was held for the victims at a nearby church
A vigil was held for the victims at a nearby church. Picture: PA

The FBI and others had said they were trying to determine whether the gunman acted alone.

All international students at the base have been accounted for, there have been no arrests, and the community is under no immediate threat, special agent Rachel L Rojas said at a news conference.

A Saudi commanding officer has ordered all students from the country to remain at one location at the base, officials also said at the news conference.

The US has sought the assistance of Saudi officials as they try to piece together information about the gunman and his motive.

First responders attend to the scene at Pensacola Naval Base
First responders attend to the scene at Pensacola Naval Base. Picture: PA/WEAR-TV

Authorities believe the gunman made social media posts in which he talked about US support for Israel and claimed that Americans are anti-Muslim, an official said on Sunday.

Earlier in the week of the shooting, Alshamrani allegedly hosted a dinner party where he and three others watched videos of mass shootings, another US official claimed.

He opened fire inside a classroom at the base, killing three people and wounding two sheriff's deputies, one in the arm and one in the knee, before one of the deputies killed him.

Eight others were also hurt. Both deputies were expected to survive.

US President Donald Trump declined to say whether the shooting was terrorism-related but said on Saturday that he would review policies governing foreign military training in the US.