Published: Mon, December 09, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Federal Bureau of Investigation says US Navy base shooting was act of terror

Federal Bureau of Investigation says US Navy base shooting was act of terror

Gunman Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a second lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force, was in the USA for training under the Foreign Military Sales program, CNN reported.

Two sheriff's deputies were wounded, one in the arm and one in the knee, before one killed the gunman.

In remarks at a gathering of top United States military officials on Saturday, Defence Secretary Mark Esper was asked whether he could say definitively the shooting was an act of terrorism.

"Our investigation has not led us to any information to indicate that there is any credible threat to our community, however, as always, we urge you to keep an eye out for each other especially for a tragedy like this one", Rojas said.

Investigators also believe the gunman visited New York City, including Rockefeller Centre, days before the shooting and are working to determine the objective of the trip, said the official.

All worldwide students at the Pensacola 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.

"The sailors that lost their lives in the line of duty and showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil", Capt Tim Kinsella, commanding officer of naval air station Pensacola, said in a statement.

Investigators were exploring why the pilot trainee and three others watched videos of mass shootings in the days before the Pensacola shootings, AP said. "The Saudi government has pledged to fully cooperate with our investigation".

He argued that if he refuses to sell to the Saudis, they will turn around and buy weapons from US rivals such as China and Russian Federation.

The US president also said he would review the policies that allow foreign service members to train in the US. He added: "To have them take out of three of our sailors, to me that's unacceptable, and I think that could have been prevented".

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

Rojas said Alshamrani used a Glock Model 45 9mmt that was purchased legally.

The Navy said that the victims, identified as Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, 19, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, 21, attempted to neutralize the shooter, noting that "if not for their actions, and the actions of the Naval Security Force that were the first responders on the scene, this incident could have been much worse".

One of the three students who attended the dinner party videotaped outside the building while the shooting was taking place, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity after being briefed by federal authorities.

"We should not be taking new incoming Saudi students until we're absolutely confident in our vetting process", Gaetz said.

He said he and Trump have been communicating regularly, and appeared to also call for the program's suspension.

An initial survey found no apparent connections between Alshamrani and any foreign militant group, though an anonymous U.S. official cautioned that the investigation was still in its early stages and no conclusions had yet been reached, the Washington Post said. "Our main goal is to confirm if he acted alone or was he part of a larger network", she said.

"I don't know", Esper said. "I don't want prejudge the investigation, but it appears that this may be someone that was radicalized". O'Brien said he did not see evidence so far of a "broader plot".

The US has long had a robust training program for Saudis, providing assistance in the US and in the kingdom.

Alshamrani, a Saudi national, was in the United States for flight training, law enforcement sources told ABC and other news outlets.

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