US

Pensacola Navy Base Shooter Was Saudi Arabian Aviation Student: Official

By The Associated Press

PENSACOLA, Fla.—A U.S. official has identified the shooter at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola as a Saudi Arabian aviation student.

Authorities are investigating if the shooting was terrorism-related. The shooting was the second at a U.S. Navy base this week.

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan says 11 people were shot in Friday’s attack, four of whom died, including the shooter. Base commander Capt. Timothy Kinsella Jr. says the base will remain closed until further notice.

Kinsella Jr. would not say if the shooter belonged to the military.

NTD Photo
Emergency responders near the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla., on Dec. 6, 2019. (WEAR-TV via AP)

Lucy Samford, 31, said her husband, a Navy reservist and civilian worker on the base, was about 500 yards from where the shooting happened. She said she got a call from him a little after 7 a.m. and “one of the first things out of his mouth was, ‘I love you. Tell the kids I love them. I just want you to know there’s an active shooter on base.’”

Her husband, whom she declined to identify, later told her he was OK.

NAS Pensacola employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel, according to its website.

Police Pensacola Air Base
Police vehicles block the entrance to the Pensacola Air Base in Pensacola, Fla., on Dec. 6, 2019. (Tony Giberson/Pensacola News Journal via AP)

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.

Part of the Pensacola base resembles a college campus, with buildings where 60,000 members of the Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard receive training each year in multiple fields of aviation.

The base is home is home to the Blue Angels flight demonstration team, and includes the National Naval Aviation Museum, a popular regional tourist attraction.

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The entrance to the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla., is seen on Jan. 29, 2016. (Melissa Nelson/AP Photo)

The shooting is the second at a U.S. naval base this week. A sailor whose submarine was docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, opened fire on three civilian employees Wednesday, killing two before taking his own life.

Alex McGinley, a tattoo artist who works near the Pensacola base, said he was alerted to the shooting by one of his clients, most of whom are military personnel. He said none of his clients was among those shot.

“What kind of things go through a person’s mind to a level that makes them do something like that?” McGinley asked.

Naval Air Station Pensacola aerial
The aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy arrives for exercises at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., on March 17, 2004. (U.S. Navy/Patrick Nichols/Handout via Reuters)

By Bill Kaczor and Brendan Farrington