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Saudi attacker 'acted alone' in Florida naval base rampage

Published: December 8, 2019
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Source: aljazeera.com

Investigators believe a Saudi Air Force lieutenant acted alone on Friday when he killed three people and wounded eight at a United States Navy base in Pensacola, Florida before being fatally shot by police, the FBI has said.

But they have yet to determine a motive for the rampage, even though fellow Saudi students at the base who were close to the attacker are cooperating with investigators, said Rachel Rojas, special agent in charge of the FBI's Jacksonville office and lead investigator on the case.

"We currently assess there was one gunman who perpetrated this attack and no arrests have been made in this case," Rojas said on Sunday.

"We are looking very hard at uncovering his motive and I would ask for patience so we can get this right," she said, adding that 80 FBI special agents, 100 support staff and scores of other investigators from the Navy and multiple federal agencies were working the case.

Rojas said on Sunday that the attacker used a Glock model 45 9mm handgun that he had purchased legally in Florida.

The FBI identified the attacker as Second Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21.

Authorities confirmed the suspect was a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force who was on the base as part of a US Navy training programme designed to foster links with foreign allies.

A sheriff's deputy fatally shot the gunman, authorities said, ending the second deadly attack at a US military base within a week. Within hours, Saudi Arabia's King Salman had called US President Donald Trump to extend his condolences and pledge his kingdom's support in the investigation.

Programme under scrutiny

Earlier, US Defense Secretary said he has ordered a review of vetting procedures while defending the training programme that brought Alshamrani to Pensacola.

Senator Lindsey Graham, an influential Republican on national security issues, said on national Fox News that the training programme should be suspended until the incident was investigated.

"I like allies. Saudi Arabia's an ally, but there's something really bad here fundamentally. We need to slow this programme down and reevaluate," he said.

Representative Matt Gaetz, a Republican whose Florida district includes the Pensacola base, echoed Graham, calling for the military training programme to be halted "until we are absolutely confident" in it.

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A Saudi Air Force second lieutenant killed four people and wounded eight others on Friday in an unexplained shooting rampage at a US Navy base in Florida where he was training, US officials told Reuters. Sheriff’s deputies responding to the early-morning incident shot and killed the gunman, who was armed with a handgun at the US Naval Station in Pensacola, Navy and local law enforcement officials said.

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