A member of the Saudi Arabian military, visiting the United States for training aboard the Pensacola Naval Air Station, reportedly opened fire in a classroom building on Friday morning, killing three and injuring a number of others. The injured, which included two Sheriff’s Deputies, who were wounded engaging the shooter, were rushed off to nearby hospitals. One deputy was hit with a round in the arm; the other took a bullet to the knee. Both are expected to survive their injuries.
The shooter, who appears to have been a pilot, was killed at the scene.
Thus far, it remains unclear whether the three victims were service members or civilians.
“Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie,” said Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan. “This doesn’t happen in Escambia County. This doesn’t happen in Pensacola. So now we’re here to pick up the pieces.”
The shooting began at approximately 6:30 a.m., with local law enforcement immediately receiving reports of an active shooter on the base. According to local news outlets, it only took responding officers a “couple of minutes” to arrive. Then a shootout unfolded that took place across two floors of the building. It is unclear if the only two responding officers were injured, or if others were involved. In either case, the suspect was dead by 8 a.m.
Authorities would not comment on the identity of the shooter, what (if any) business he had on base, or what type of firearm was used in the attack, citing the ongoing investigation that is now still in its earliest stages.
“This is a tragic day for the city of Pensacola,” said Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson. “We’re a military town. Our hearts and prayers are connected to those that serve us every day. And certainly the expectation that this would happen to us here, at home, was unexpected.”
Officials have said that they’re investigating whether terrorism may have been the motive behind the shooting, but say that it’s still too early to make any such conclusions. The FBI has now taken over the investigation.
This is the second shooting on a U.S. military installation in the past few days. The first one took place on Wednesday in the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii, when a U.S. Navy sailor opened fire on three civilian Defense Department employees, killing two. That shooter went on to take his own life before police arrived. The motive in that shooting also remains under investigation. There does not appear to be any connection between the two incidents.