Officials are investigating the motive behind a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola early Friday by a Saudi aviator in training, who purportedly authored a series of tweets expressing hatred of the United States.

The shooter pulled out a handgun in a classroom at the Florida Navy base and opened fire, killing three people and injuring eight others before a deputy fatally shot him, authorities said.

While the FBI has not yet confirmed whether it’s investigating terrorism as a motive for the attack, Pensacola’s congressional representatives have characterized the incident as an “act or terrorism.” U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, however, said Saturday that it was too soon to rule the shooting an act of terrorism.

The shooting happened just two days after a U.S. Navy sailor shot three people and then killed himself at Pearl Harbor.

Navy Adm. Mike Gilday, chief of naval operations, said it has been “a devastating week for our Navy family.”

Here’s what we know.

Who was the NAS Pensacola shooter?

The FBI identified the shooter late Saturday night as Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, a second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force who was a student naval flight officer at the Naval Aviation Schools Command. 

Why was a Saudi national at NAS Pensacola?

He was one of 852 Saudi nationals in a training program that invites the “best of the best” from foreign allies’ militaries to receive training in the U.S. He began his three-year course in August 2017 with English, basic aviation and initial pilot training.

About 5,180 foreign students from 153 countries in the United States participate in the program. Many of those students operate U.S. military hardware that foreign governments buy from the United States. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest customer for arms, and many of those are American made.

FBI investigating motive, tweets

FBI Special Agent Rachel Rojas makes a brief announcement during a press conference outside Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday. Dec. 6, 2019.

Hours before the shooting, tweets purportedly written by the suspect railed against the United States for its support of Israel and for stationing troops at bases in Saudi Arabia. 

The tweets are addressed to “O American people” and outline what the author said is a hatred of the United States for crimes against Muslims, including the detention of suspects in Guantanamo Bay. 

‘O American people’:FBI investigating tweets purportedly from suspect

The FBI is working to confirm that the tweets came from the Saudi military trainee and has not yet confirmed whether it’s investigating terrorism as a motive for the attack.

Also investigating are the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Department of Defense and other national, state and federal agencies.





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