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Saudi national Pensacola Navy base shooter hosted party to watch mass shootings video

The main gate at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Navy Boulevard in Pensacola, Fla. (U.S. Navy photo by Patrick Nichols)

A Saudi suspect videotaped the scene and two others watched from a nearby car as a fellow airman carried out a mass shooting that killed three American service members at a Navy base in Florida, a federal official reportedly said Saturday.

The three additional suspects also allegedly watched videos of mass shootings at a dinner party hosted by the alleged gunman days earlier, signaling a possible wider terror plot involving Saudis training on the base in Pensacola.

The Saudis are being questioned by authorities after the rampage along with nearly a dozen countrymen, The Associated Press reported, quoting an official who had been briefed by authorities.

Several other Saudi trainees were unaccounted for on Saturday, a day after a shooter identified as Saudi Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani opened fire in a classroom at the base Friday morning, killing three people.

The FBI was examining social media posts and investigating whether he acted alone or was connected to any broader group.

The assault, which prompted a massive law enforcement response and base lockdown, ended when a sheriff’s deputy killed the attacker. Eight people were hurt in the attack, including the deputy and a second deputy who was with him.

Family members on Saturday identified one of the slain 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.”

Adam Watson said his little brother was able to make it outside the classroom building to tell authorities where the shooter was after being shot “multiple” times.

“He died serving his country,” said Benjamin Watson, the victim’s father.

Florida U.S. Sen. Rick Scott issued a scathing statement calling the shooting — the second on a U.S. Naval base this week — an act of terrorism “whether this individual was motivated by radical Islam or was simply mentally unstable.”

During a news conference Friday night, the FBI declined to release the shooter’s identity and wouldn’t comment on his possible motivations.

“There are many reports circulating, but the FBI deals only in facts,” said Rachel L. Rojas, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the Jacksonville Field Office.

President Donald Trump declined to say whether the shooting was terrorism-related. Trump tweeted his condolences to the families of the victims and noted that he had received a phone call from Saudi King Salman.

He said the king told him that “this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people.”

The Saudi government offered condolences to the victims and their families and said it would provide “full support” to U.S. authorities.

The U.S. has long had a robust training program for Saudis, providing assistance in the U.S. and in the kingdom. The shooting, however, shined a spotlight on the two countries’ sometimes rocky relationship. Almost all of the Sept. 11 terrorists were Saudis.

In the previous shooting, a sailor whose submarine was docked at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii killed two civilian employees before turning the gun on himself on Wednesday.


©2019 New York Daily News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.