Shooting At Pensacola Naval Base is Being Investigated as Terrorism, FBI Says
Friends of the gunman, who was in the Saudi air force, have been cooperating with the investigation into the attack, which killed three sailors.
- By Haley Samsel
- Dec 09, 2019
The Friday shooting at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida that killed three sailors is being investigated as a terrorist act, the FBI announced in a news briefing on Sunday.
The killer was identified as a 21-year-old second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force who was participating in flight training at the Naval Air Station Pensacola. The FBI has been interviewing a number of Saudi students at the air station who were close to the shooter, according to Rachel Rojas, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville field office.
"Their Saudi commanding officer has restricted them to base, and the Saudi government has pledged to fully cooperate with our investigation," Rojas said during the news briefing. "I thank the Kingdom for their pledge of full and complete cooperation."
She said that investigating the shooting with the “presumption” that it was an act of terror allows law enforcement to quickly move forward to solve the crime.
“[Doing so] allows us to take advantage of investigative techniques that can help us more quickly identify and then eliminate any additional threats to the rest of our community,” Rojas said.
There are currently no evidence of additional threats, Rojas said. She said that the investigators were still trying to determine whether the gunman worked as “part of a larger network” or what role ideology may have played in the shooting. Friends of the gunman are cooperating with the investigation, she said.
The shooter was killed by an Escambia County Sheriff’s deputy who was later hospitalized but is expected to recover from his injuries.
Three U.S. sailors, identified on Saturday as Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, were killed as a result of the attack. Another eight people were injured and taken to area hospitals.
Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.