Saudi airman in U.S. for training suspected in deadly shooting at Florida Navy base

The main gate at Naval Air Station Pensacola is seen on Navy Boulevard in Pensacola, Florida, U.S. March 16, 2016. Picture taken March 16, 2016. U.S. Navy/Patrick Nichols/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) – A member of the Saudi Air Force visiting the United States for military training was the suspect in a shooting that killed four people and injured eight at a U.S. Navy base in Florida on Friday, the state governor and other officials said.

The shooter was killed by sheriff’s deputies responding to the dawn incident at Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Navy and local sheriff’s office said, the second deadly shooting at a U.S. military installation this week.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the suspect was a Saudi national attending training at the base as part of long-standing Navy program open to U.S. allies. The motive for the violence was under investigation.

“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 and then to be here training on our soil,” DeSantis said at a news conference. “The government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims. They are going to owe a debt here, given that this was one of their individuals.”

U.S President Donald Trump said Saudi Arabia’s King Salman called him to offer condolences and sympathy to the victims.

“The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

In a statement, King Salman condemned the shooting and said Saudi security services were working with U.S. agencies to uncover the cause.

“The perpetrator of this heinous crime does not represent the Saudi people, who count the American people as friends and allies,” Salman said.

The suspect used a handgun in the incident, which played out over two floors in a classroom building at a base whose main function is training.

The first reports of an “active shooter” on the base came through to the Escambia County sheriff’s office at about 6:51 a.m., officials said.

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