A member of the Saudi Air Force visiting the United States for military training was the suspect in a shooting attack at an American navy base in Florida in which four people were killed and eight injured, the state governor and other officials said.
Four people, including the shooter, were killed in the episode at Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Navy and local sheriff’s office said, the second deadly shooting at a US military installation this week.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis confirmed that the suspect was a Saudi national attending training at the base as part of long-standing Navy programme open to US allies.
The motive for the violence was still under investigation.
“There is obviously going to be a lot of questions about this individual being a foreign national, being a part of the Saudi Air Force and then to be here training on our soil,” Mr DeSantis said at a news conference on Friday.
The suspect fired a handgun in the attack, which played out over two floors in classroom building at a base whose main function is training.
“Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie,” Sheriff David Morgan said at a news conference on Friday morning.
A sheriff’s deputy fatally shot the shooter in a classroom on the base, Morgan said.
US President Donald Trump said that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman called him to send condolences and his sympathy to the victims.
“The King said 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,” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.
….The King said 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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2019
Two sheriff’s deputies were injured, one shot in the arm, the other in the knee, but both were expected to survive, officials said at the news conference.
Eight people were taken to Baptist Hospital for treatment, hospital spokeswoman Kathy Bowers said.
Sheriff’s officials said one of the three victims died after being taken to the hospital, but it was unclear whether that victim was one of the eight who arrived at Baptist. Ms Bowers declined to say.
Commanding base officer Captain Timothy Kinsella Jr. would not say if the shooter belonged to the military and said he did not want to speculate on whether the shooting was terrorism-related.
On Wednesday, a sailor shot three civilians at the historic Pearl Harbor military base in Hawaii, killing two of them before taking his own life.
The Pensacola base, which is near Florida’s border with Alabama, is a major training site for the Navy and home to its aerobatic flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels.
The base employs more than about 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel, according to the base’s website.