Aviation student opens fire at Florida Naval base, killing three

PENSACOLA, Florida (AP) — An aviation student from Saudi Arabia opened fire in a classroom at the Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday morning, killing three people in an attack the Saudi government quickly condemned and that United States (US) officials were investigating for possible links to terrorism.

The assault, which ended when a sheriff’s deputy killed the attacker, was the second fatal shooting at a US Navy base this week and prompted a massive law enforcement response and base lockdown.

Twelve people were hurt in the attack, including the two sheriff’s deputies who were the first to respond, 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.

The shooter was a member of the Saudi military who was in aviation training at the base, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at a news conference. DeSantis spokesman Helen Ferre later said the governor learned about the shooter’s identity from briefings with FBI and military officials.

A US official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity identified the shooter as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. The official wasn’t authorised to discuss the matter publicly.

The official also said the FBI is examining social media posts and investigating whether he acted alone or was connected to any broader group.

During a news conference on Friday night, the FBI declined to release the shooter’s identity and wouldn’t comment on his possible motivations.

“There are many reports circulating, but the FBI deals only in facts,” said Rachel L Rojas, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the Jacksonville Field Office. “This is still very much an active and ongoing investigation.”

Earlier on Friday, two US officials identified the student as a second lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force, and said authorities were investigating whether the attack was terrorism-related.

Police vehicles block the entrance to the Pensacola Air Basein Pensacola, Florida. PHOTO: AP