In a prepared statement issued late Saturday, the FBI identified the Saudi gunman who opened fire on a classroom at Naval Air Station Pensacola a day earlier, killing three and wounding eight more before he died in a shootout with sheriff’s deputies.
As previously reported by Navy Times, he’s Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, a second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force who was a student naval flight officer at Naval Aviation Schools Command.
“Anyone with information regarding Alshamrani and his activities is encouraged to call 1-800-CALL-FBI,” the message said.
Moments after the FBI statement came out, Navy leaders identified Alshamrani’s three slain victims:
- Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Student, Naval Aviation Schools Command, 23, from Coffee County, Alabama;
- Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, Student, Naval Aviation Schools Command, 19, from St. Petersburg, Florida; and
- Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, Student, Naval Aviation Schools Command, 21, from Richmond Hill, Georgia.
“The sorrow from the tragic event on NAS Pensacola will have a lasting impact on our installation and community,” said Capt. Tim Kinsella, commanding officer of NAS Pensacola in a prepared statement emailed to Navy Times. “We feel the loss profoundly and grieve with the family and friends of the deceased. The sailors that lost their lives in the line of duty and showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil.
"When confronted, they didn’t run from danger; they ran towards it and saved lives. If not for their actions, and the actions of the Naval Security Force that were the first responders on the scene, this incident could have been far worse.”
FBI spokeswoman Amanda Warford Videll said the FBI Jacksonville field office “is not aware of any credible threat toward the Pensacola community at this time.”
Pentagon officials indicated that Naval Air Station Pensacola will remain shuttered to all but mission essential personnel until Monday.
While families who live on base will have access to their residences, the National Naval Aviation Museum and Barrancas National Cemetery are closed until further notice.
An Emergency Family Assistance Center has moved to the Fleet and Family Service Center to provide counselors to support witnesses, friends, family members and residents. Anyone with questions is encouraged to call 850-452-5990.
FBI officials haven’t declared the shooting spree to be an act of terrorism and Warford Videll declined to comment on reports of multiple Saudi citizens detained in the wake of the violence.
No group has claimed credit for an attack.
Speaking during a defense forum in California on Saturday, Pentagon leaders said it’s still too early to label the deadly shooting a terrorist attack, and said they hope the incident doesn’t overshadow the importance of working with foreign military allies for U.S. national security.
“That’s an advantage we bring as a military,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley. “We have allies and partners, and often our adversaries don’t.
“My biggest concern would be that we would walk away from those key relationships, folks we know that we need when we go into combat.”
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday told the audience it was “too early in my opinion to draw those types of conclusions” about terrorist links to Alshamrani and said officials were “approaching those investigations carefully.”
Airman Haitham enlisted in the Navy on July 18 and received his E-3 pay grade on Sept. 20, the day before he reported to Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola, according to this military records.
Airman Apprentice Walters enlisted on Sept. 16 and received his E-2 pay grade on Nov. 22, two days before he reported to Naval Aviation Schools Command, his records indicate.
Ensign Watson was commissioned on May 24 and designated as a Student Naval Aviator in training, according to his military records.
He reported to Naval Aviation School on Nov. 15.
A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he previously studied at the U.S. Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, Rhode Island from July 22, 2014, to June 29, 2015.
During his senior year in Annapolis, Watson captained Navy’s rifle team. An expert in smallbore and air rifle, he competed in the NCAA championship, according to the Academy.
Prine came to Navy Times after stints at the San Diego Union-Tribune and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.