Official: Base assailant watched shooting tape
Report: One person at party filmed shooting while outside building
PENSACOLA, FLA. >> The Saudi student who fatally shot three people at a U.S. naval base in Florida hosted a dinner party earlier in the week where he and three others watched videos of mass shootings, a U.S. official told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Officials investigating the deadly attack were working Saturday to determine whether it was motivated by terrorism, as both President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper indicated that they would review policies governing foreign military training in the United States.
Family members on Saturday identified one of the victims as a 23-year-old recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who alerted first responders to where the shooter was even after he had been shot several times.
“Joshua Kaleb Watson saved countless lives today with his own,” Adam Watson wrote on Facebook. “He died a hero and we are beyond proud but there is a hole in our hearts that can never be filled.”
The shooter opened fire inside a classroom at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday, killing three people and wounding two sheriff’s deputies, one in the arm and one in the knee, before one of the deputies killed him. Eight others were also hurt. Both deputies are expected to survive.
The official who spoke Saturday said one of the three students who attended the dinner party hosted by the attacker recorded video from outside the classroom building while the shooting was taking place. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity after being briefed by federal authorities. Two other Saudi students watched from a car, the official said.
The official said 10 Saudi students were being held on the base Saturday and several others were unaccounted for.
A U.S. official who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity on Friday identified the shooter as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The official also said the FBI was examining social media posts and investigating whether he acted alone or was connected to any broader group.
Two U.S. officials identified the student as a 2nd lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force and said Friday that authorities were investigating whether the attack was terrorism-related. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose information that had not yet been made public.
Trump declined to say whether the shooting was terrorism-related. Trump tweeted his condolences to the families of the victims Friday and noted that Saudi King Salman had reassured him in a telephone call that the shooter “in no way, shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people.”
But in comments echoing those made earlier by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Trump said Saturday that he would review policies governing foreign military training in the U.S.
The U.S. long has had a robust training program for Saudis, providing assistance in the U.S. and in the kingdom. A couple hundred students from countries outside the U.S. are enrolled in training at the Pensacola base, said Base commander Capt. Tim Kinsella.
“This has been done for many decades,” Trump said. “I guess we’re going to have to look into the whole procedure. We’ll start that immediately.”
A vehicle Saturday drives by a tribute to shooting victims at the Naval Air Station Pensacola that was freshly painted on what’s known as Graffiti Bridge in downtown Pensacola, Fla. Three people were killed in the deadly rampage.