A Saudi air force trainee opened fire on Friday at a US naval base, killing three people before being shot dead by police, officials said.
The shooting, which took place at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, left eight people injured including two sheriff’s deputies who responded to the attack.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the shooter was from Saudi Arabia — the same nationality as 15 of the 19 men involved in the 9/11 attacks, some of whom attended flight school in Florida.
“There’s obviously going to be a lot of questions about this individual being a foreign national, being a part of the Saudi air force and then to be here training on our soil,” DeSantis told a press conference.
“Obviously the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims. And I think they are going to owe a debt here given that this is one of their individuals.”
Commanding officer Timothy Kinsella said the shooter — whose name authorities declined to release — was an aviation trainee, one of “a couple hundred” foreign students present at the base.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time,” President Donald Trump tweeted.
“We are continuing to monitor the situation as the investigation is ongoing.”
Police received their first call about the shooting shortly before 7:00 am (1200 GMT), Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said. One of the responding deputies eventually killed the attacker, who used a handgun.
“Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie,” Morgan said. “You don’t expect this to happen.”
Kinsella said the base’s security forces first responded to the shooting before outside police agencies arrived.
The facility, which is comprised mostly of classrooms, “is shut down until further notice,” he said.
Witnesses to the shooting described a chaotic scene as police rushed to respond.
Federal agencies are investigating, authorities said, including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Just two days prior on Wednesday, a US sailor fatally shot two people and wounded a third at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii before taking his own life.
– Military rarely targeted –
The Pensacola naval air station hosts 16,000 military personnel and more than 7,000 civilians, and is home to a flight demonstration squadron.
It is an early training center for naval pilots, and is known as the “cradle of Naval aviation.”
The base is the center for the US Navy foreign military training programs, established in 1985 specifically for Saudi students before being expanded to other nationalities.
While mass shootings in the United States are common, those at military facilities are rare.
In July 2015, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez carried out an attack at two military installations in Tennessee that killed four Marines and a sailor, with the FBI concluding that the violence was inspired by a “foreign terrorist group.”
Two years earlier, Aaron Alexis killed 12 people and wounded eight others at the Washington Navy Yard, just two miles (three kilometers) from the US Capitol building, before being shot dead by officers.
Four years before that, Major Nidal Hasan, a US Army psychiatrist, killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others at Fort Hood.
He was considered a “lone wolf” who supported terror network Al-Qaeda.
Supporters of tighter gun laws seized on the latest shooting.
“Our veterans and active-duty military put their lives on the line to protect us overseas — they shouldn’t have to be terrorized by gun violence at home,” Cindy Martin, a volunteer with the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action whose daughter works at the naval base, said in a statement.
Kamala Harris is boosting Biden in a state Trump desperately needs to win: report
On Saturday, Politico reported that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) being added to Joe Biden's ticket has "electrified" a group of voters who normally are ignored by both parties: West Indian voters. And this could make a big difference in Florida — a state that could decide the outcome of the election.
"Calls from Caribbean radio show hosts flooded the Biden campaign from South Florida. And a jolt of excitement shot through the crowd of early vote poll workers at the Lauderdhill Mall, in the midst of Broward County’s growing Jamaican community," reported Marc Caputo. "'There was just this sense of energy,' state Rep. Anika Omphroy, a daughter of two Jamaican immigrants, said in describing the moment the announcement was received. 'It was all Black women out there working under the tents,' she said. 'It was 98 degrees in August in South Florida, so it was too hot to cheer. But you could feel it, this sense.'"
Returning Brits begin quarantine as second virus wave threatens Europe
British holidaymakers returning home from parts of Europe began having to quarantine on Saturday (Aug 15) under new restrictions, as a second wave of virus infections threatened more disruption and economic chaos on the continent.
The UK opted to remove France, the Netherlands, Malta and several other countries from its list of places exempt from self-isolation rules, sparking a rush for plane, train and ferry tickets by Britons desperate to get back before the 4am (0300 GMT) change.
All travelers arriving from the three countries - as well as Monaco, and Caribbean island states Turks & Caicos and Aruba - after the deadline must quarantine for 14 days.
Iran cries victory after US bid to extend arms embargo flops at UN
Iran on Saturday hailed a UN Security Council vote rejecting a US bid to extend an arms embargo on the Islamic republic, saying its foe has "never been so isolated".
President Hassan Rouhani said the US had failed to kill off what he called the "half alive" 2015 deal with major powers that gave Iran relief from sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
"The United States failed in this conspiracy with humiliation," said Rouhani.
"This day will go down in the history of our Iran and in the history of fighting global arrogance."