Nate Chute, Annie Blanks and Joel Shannon USA TODAY
Dec 6, 2019
A Saudi national has been identified by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the suspect in a Friday morning shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, that left four dead, including the suspect, and eight people wounded.
The gunman was training in aviation at the base, which hosts military from around the globe, DeSantis said. The FBI has taken the lead in the investigation.
The shooter, identified by three sources as Mohammed Alshamrani, began his three-year course in August 2017 with English, basic aviation and initial pilot training, said the officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly due to the ongoing investigation.
He was one of 852 Saudi nationals in the United States training under the Pentagon’s security cooperation agreement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, according to a Defense official.
The gunman has been decried as “barbaric” by King Salman of Saudi Arabia, according to President Donald Trump.
“Obviously, the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims,” DeSantis said in a press conference. “They’re going to owe a debt here.”
Here’s what we know about the Saudi national and why he was at the base.
Why was a Saudi national taking classes at a US Naval base?
Officials said the shooter was taking part in an aviation training program at the Naval Air Station. Training international students at NAS Pensacola is a core part of the base’s mission.
The base’s Naval Education and Training Security Assistance Field Activity International Training Center is a department on base that specializes in training aviators from other countries and forging international partnerships.
NITC has several partnerships with the Royal Saudi Air Forces, including an undergraduate pilot basic aviation preparatory training course, a senior executive leadership course and a junior officer enhanced leadership course.
Commanding Officer Capt. Tim Kinsella said Friday that “a couple hundred” international students are training at the base.
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