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.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also called Trump on Sunday to express his condolences and assure Trump that Saudi authorities would offer their absolute cooperation with the US and provide all information that would help the investigations, the state news agency said.
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.