Pensacola shooting: Officials launch terror probe as suspected shooter said to be Saudi military trainee

Chris Riotta
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A gunman opened fired at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida on Friday, killing three people and injuring at least 11 others before taking their own life. The base was put on lockdown throughout the morning as authorities urged residents to stay away from the area.

Local officials said the shooter was “confirmed dead” and that the active shooter situation had ended in a statement that came at approximately 8:50am local time.

The shooting suspect was reportedly an aviation student from Saudi Arabia who was a member of the country's air force. and authorities are investigating if the shooting was terrorism-related, according to a US official.

The US Navy Twitter account tweeted on Friday morning at approximately 8:41am local time: “We are aware of reports of a possible active shooter at Naval Air Station Pensacola.”

The shooting came just two days after an active-duty sailor opened fire on civilian employees at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard near Honolulu, Hawaii.

That shooter, a 22-year-old who served on the USS Columbia, shot three civilian employees before taking his own life. Two of those employees were killed, while a third remains in hospital.

At least 11 people were taken to local hospitals. It was not immediately clear whether those injured were civilians. The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Five people were taken to Baptist Health Care in Pensacola, hospital spokeswoman Kathy Bowers said. Six more were taken to Ascension Sacred Heart, spokesman Mike Burke said. Neither spokesperson had information on their conditions that they could share, however officials later confirmed two of those injured were local deputies.

NAS Pensacola employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel, according to its website. One of the Navy’s most historic and storied bases, it sprawls along the waterfront southwest of downtown Pensacola and dominates the economy of the surrounding area.

It’s home to the Blue Angels flight demonstration team, and includes the National Naval Aviation Museum, a popular regional tourist attraction.

Escambia County Commissioner Jeff Bergosh, who works at the Naval Air Station as a civilian contractor, told the Pensacola News Journal he was in line to go through the gate on Friday morning when it was shut down due to the active shooter report.

"There's probably been 100 or so various law enforcement vehicles zooming down the wrong side on Navy Boulevard," Mr Bergosh told the newspaper.

He added: "There's been ambulances, fire trucks. It's my understanding there's multiple causalities.

Naval officials later confimed local officials "neutralised" the shooter at a press conference.

Saudi Arabia “needs to make things better for the victims” of the shooting, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters during a brief press conference in the afternoon. He also said that he spoke with Donald Trump about the issue, and the president agreed the Saudi government would owe a “debt” to the victims.

“King Salman of Saudi Arabia just called to express his sincere condolences and give his sympathies to the families and friends of the warriors who were killed and wounded in the attack that took place in Pensacola, Florida”, Mr Trump wrote on Friday afternoon. “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.”

Additional reporting by AP