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Terrorism link investigated in deadly shooting at Naval Air Station in Florida

4 dead, 7 injured, including 2 deputies, at base in Pensacola

Gov. Ron DeSantis at the Naval Air Station Pensacola following a deadly shooting on Dec. 6, 2019.
Gov. Ron DeSantis at the Naval Air Station Pensacola following a deadly shooting on Dec. 6, 2019.

PENSACOLA, Fla. – A shooter opened fire in a classroom building at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola on Friday morning in an attack that left four people dead, including the assailant, and multiple people wounded. The shooting — the second at a U.S. Navy base this week — prompted a massive law enforcement response and a lockdown at the base.

Officials said the shooting suspect was an aviation student from Saudi Arabia and authorities are investigating if the shooting was terrorism-related.

Eleven people were shot in total, including two sheriff’s deputies who were the first to respond, one of whom killed the shooter, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said. One of the deputies was shot in the arm and the other in the knee, and both were expected to recover, he said.

“This a dark day for a very great place,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said.

During a 2 p.m. press conference, law enforcement officials declined to identify the suspected shooter but confirmed the shooter was a Saudi aviation student and member of the Saudi Air Force training at Naval Air Station in Pensacola.

“There are going to be a lot of questions about this individual being a foreign national and a member of the Saudi Air Force here training on our soil,” DeSantis said.

There was no immediate report on the shooting carried by Saudi state media. The kingdom has long relied on the U.S. to train its military.

“We have an international training service. We have students from several different countries that come here ... It’s something that we have been doing for quite a while and it’s with our partner nations,” Base Commander Cpt. Timothy F. Kinsella said.

Law enforcement officials said the shooter used a handgun. Kinsella said the shooter was not authorized to have a weapon on base.

DeSantis said lives were saved because of the response of people both in uniform for the Navy and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. Law enforcement officials said deputies with the Sheriff’s Office “negated the threat."

The base remained closed until further notice and those still on base would remain there until it was safe to evacuate, Kinsella said.

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.

Some of the Pensacola base looks like a college campus with buildings where members of the Navy, Marines, Air Force Coast Guard receive training from both military and civilian instructors on many fields of aviation.

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

The shooting marks the second on a Navy base this week.

A 22-year-old active-duty sailor opened fire on three civilian employees, killing two, before he fatally shot himself at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard near Honolulu on Wednesday.

The suspected shooter opened fire on shipyard personnel with his M4 service rifle and then used his M9 service pistol to shoot himself, officials said.

The Associated Press, CNN and WJXT contributed to this report.