US

FBI Says It Presumes Naval Base Shooting Was Act of Terrorism

By Bowen Xiao

The FBI is investigating the fatal shooting that took place at a Florida naval base under the presumption that it was “an act of terrorism,” the agency said in a news conference on Dec. 8.

Special agent Rachel L. Rojas said there have been no arrests so far over the Dec. 6 shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola and that all international students at the base have been accounted for. The community is under no immediate threat, she said.

The FBI said they were trying to determine whether the gunman, 2nd Lt. Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, of the Royal Saudi Air Force, acted alone when he killed three people and wounded eight on Friday before being fatally shot by police. Alshamrani was a flight student at Pensacola, where members of foreign militaries are routinely trained by the United States.

Pensacola shooter
Mohammed Alshamrani, the Saudi student who opened fire inside a classroom at Naval Air Station Pensacola, on Dec. 6, 2019, before one of the deputies killed him. (FBI via AP)

A Saudi commanding officer has ordered all students from the country to remain at one location at the base, officials said at the news conference.

Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request from The Epoch Times regarding the FBI’s investigating the incident as a terrorist act.

Investigators also believe the gunman visited New York City—including the Rockefeller Center, days before the shooting—and are working to determine the purpose of the trip, said one official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

President Donald Trump told reporters on Dec. 7 that he had spoken with the King of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman over the shooting. He said that they were devastated to hear about it.

“We’re finding out what took place, whether it’s one person or a number of people,” Trump said. “And the King will be involved in taking care of families and loved ones. He feels very strongly.”

“It’s a very shocking thing,” he continued. “We’ll get to the bottom of it very quickly. This has been done for many decades. We’ve been doing this with other foreign countries. We’re going to have to look into the whole procedure. We’ll start that immediately.”

Trump did not mention if the shooting had been an act of terrorism or not.

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

Pensacola Naval Air Station
A general view of the atmosphere at the Pensacola Naval Air Station following a shooting in Pensacola, Fla., on Dec. 6, 2019. (Josh Brasted/Getty Images)

The United States has sought the assistance of Saudi officials as they try to piece together information about the gunman and his motive.

In a Dec. 8 post on Twitter, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said the latest incident is not the first of its kind.

“15 Saudis attack us on 9/11. The Saudi government kills a US journalist. A Saudi pilot in training kills 3 of our soldiers. Can anyone spot the common thread?” he said. “My take: It’s way past time to quit arming and training the Saudis!”

The United States has long had a robust training program for Saudis, providing assistance at home and in the kingdom. More than 850 Saudis are in the United States for various training activities. They are among more than 5,000 foreign students from 153 countries in the United States who are undergoing military training.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

From The Epoch Times