PENSACOLA, Florida — A member of Saudi Arabia’s Air Force opened fire with a handgun at a naval base in Florida, leaving three victims dead and several people injured.
The shooter, who was in the U.S. for aviation training as part of a long-running program, is also dead, officials said.
President Donald Trump said he spoke with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, striking a diplomatic tone as he said the monarch conveyed his condolences.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hinted that the international nature of the incident would complicate investigations, which are now under the auspices of the federal authorities.
“Obviously, when you have a foreign national involved, especially from that part of the world, the investigation is obviously going to be different,” DeSantis said. Police made similar remarks.
“The government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “They are going to owe a debt here.”
Timothy Kinsella, a captain and commander of the base, said the Saudi national was in the U.S. on an aviation training program. He noted there are hundreds of foreign nationals from various allied nations who train at the base.
David Morgan, the sheriff of Escambia County, vowed that there will be an extensive investigation.
“You will hear the truth from us, as best we can tell you,” he said.
The lead in the investigation has been handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Police responded to the shooting in about three to five minutes.
“There was some real heroism today,” said Kinsella, referring to the response by police, civilians and military officers.
Weapons are not generally allowed on the base, with the exception of security personnel, raising questions about how a foreign national had a handgun.
In his tweet, Trump wrote: “The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people.”
Later at the White House, he said: “It’s a horrible thing that took place. We are getting to the bottom of it.”
The official Saudi press agency carried a note from the king, saying he spoke to Trump and disavowed the shooter. “The perpetrator of this heinous crime does not represent the Saudi people, who have respect and appreciation for the American people,” the king said.
Much to the consternation of a majority of lawmakers in Congress, the president has maintained tight relations with Saudi Arabia, despite the war in Yemen and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.
The incident comes two days after a sailor shot dead two workers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, before the shooter took his own life. Investigations are still ongoing.
Officials at Pearl Harbor said the annual commemoration events to mark the Japanese attack on the base in 1941, which sparked the US entry into World War II, would go ahead as planned at the weekend.
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