Family recounts heroics of fallen son in Pensacola shooting

Nellie Chapman
December 8, 2019

Mohammed Alshamrani, according to authorities, was one of about 200 foreign nationals receiving training on the naval air base as part of a program in which USA allies send members of their armed forces there to study aviation.

"Saddened to hear of the awful shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola & continuing to monitor the situation".

"There is obviously going to be a lot of questions about this individual being a foreign national, being a part of the Saudi air force", he told reporters.

Other Florida officials have echoed his calls for a full review of naval training programs and have said the shooting exposes serious flaws in the process.

The Navy on Saturday identified the three victims of the NAS Pensacola shooting as 23-year-old Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, 19-year-old Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham and 21-year-old Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters.

During a news conference Friday night, the Federal Bureau of Investigation declined to release the shooter's identity and wouldn't comment on his possible motivations.

The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist media, identified the shooter as Mohammed al-Shamrani, and said that prior to opening fire he condemned America as a "nation of evil" in an online manifesto on twitter, according to media reports. In a statement obtained by CNN affiliate WDHN, Mayor Bill Cooper said, "The Enterprise community suffered a tremendous blow Friday upon hearing of the death of one of our own, Joshua Watson..."

The Saudi government offered condolences to the victims and their families and said it would provide "full support" to the USA authorities investigating the shooting.

In a Facebook post, his brother Adam said Watson saved countless lives with his own. "He died a hero and we are beyond proud".

It said the airman first entered the United States in 2018, returned to Saudi Arabia, then re-entered the United States in February, and had reported for training at the base about three days before the attack. "[Do I] have reservations about sending Marines or service members to other countries [like] Saudi Arabia?"

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The shooting, which took place at the Pensacola Naval Air Station early Friday, left four people dead, including the shooter. He said his nephew "has his religion, his prayer, his honesty and commitments".

The king said in the phone call on Friday that the shooter, who was gunned down by police, "does not represent the Saudi people", a sentiment echoed by other officials.

Vice-Minister of Defence Khalid bin Salman noted on Twitter that he and many Saudi military personnel have trained on United States military bases and gone on to fight "against terrorism and other threats" alongside American forces.

Asked whether the shooting would affect the US-Saudi military-to-military relationship, Esper said, "I don't see this undermining the deeper relationship we've had with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for decades". The shooting occurred in a classroom building, Kinsella said.

One of the three victims killed by a Saudi gunman at Naval Air Station Pensacola has been identified.

Just on Wednesday, a USA sailor fatally shot two people and wounded a third at the Pearl Harbour Naval Shipyard in Hawaii before taking his own life. Officials said the rampage ended when a sheriff's deputy cornered and shot the suspect in a classroom.

"Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie", Sheriff David Morgan said at a press conference.

Meanwhile Saudi officials have continued to condemn the attack, including vice-minister of defence, Khalid bin Salman, who said he trained at a USA base like many others in the Saudi military.

"There is no reason we should be providing state-of-the-art military training to people who wish us harm", he said.

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