Last Friday(12/06/19) Lieutenant Mohammed Alshamrani of the Royal Saudi Air Force shot and killed three sailors at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. Alsamrani was shot and killed by a deputy sheriff shortly after the shootings began.
The gun that Alshamrani purchased was a 9mm Glock 45 pistol and he purchased it legally in Florida under US law which says, “An alien admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa is prohibited from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing a firearm or ammunition unless the alien falls within one of the exceptions provided in 18 U.S.C. 922(y)(2), such as: a valid hunting license or permit, admitted for lawful hunting or sporting purposes, certain official representatives of a foreign government, or a foreign law enforcement officer of a friendly foreign government entering the United States on official law enforcement business“.
The FBI has not yet come up with a motive for the shooting but the special agent in charge of the investigation Rachel Rojas said that “We are, as we do in most active shooter investigations, work with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism”. Rojas went on to say, “Our main goal right now is to confirm whether he acted alone, or was he a part of a larger network? We currently assess there was one gunman who perpetrated this attack. And no arrests have been made in this case”.
The Pensacola’s base commander stated that “The sailors that lost their lives in the line of duty 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”.
Both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence issued statements regarding the shooting:
- President Trump said, “Just received a full briefing on the tragic shooting at NAS Pensacola in Florida, and spoke to Governor Ron DeSantis. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time. We are continuing to monitor the situation as the investigation is ongoing”.
- Vice President Mike Pence said, “Saddened to hear of the horrible shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola & continuing to monitor the situation. Praying for the victims & their families & we commend the first responders for their swift action in taking down the shooter & getting those on base to safety”.
In response to the shooting multiple Saudi Arabia officials also issued statements condemning the shootings:
- Deputy Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman said, “A large number of Saudi graduates of the Naval Air Station in Pensacola moved on to serve with their U.S counterparts in battlefronts around the world, helping to safeguard the regional and global security. Today’s tragic event is strongly condemned by everyone in Saudi Arabia”.
- Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Sheikh, Minister of Islamic Affairs said, “We reject such criminal acts and we sympathize with the injured and the families of the victims. It is a horrible crime and a dishonest act”.
- Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US said, “As a daughter of a former U.S military-trained pilot, this tragedy is especially painful. The Saudi people are united in their condemnation of this crime. We stand in solidarity with our American friends during these difficult times”.
One large concern that has arisen is the loophole within US law which permits foreign nationals to purchase firearms might need to be changed. Additionally, some members of Congress have suggested suspending current training programs that have included foreign nationals until more thorough screening programs can be implemented