Pressure mounts on FBI for answers on Florida naval base shooting
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[December 09, 2019]
By Brad Brooks
PENSACOLA, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S.
investigators face mounting pressure on Monday to deliver answers on the
motive that led a Saudi Air Force lieutenant to shoot and kill three
people and wounded eight others at a U.S. Navy base in Pensacola,
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, speaking at a Sunday evening press
conference, said he was sure the gunman carried out an act of terrorism.
He questioned whether it could have been prevented by better vetting of
foreign military officers who train in the United States.
"There is a lot of frustration in our state over this," DeSantis said.
"You have foreign military personnel coming to our base. They should not
be doing that if they hate our country."
The FBI said it thinks that the shooter, Second Lieutenant Mohammed
Saeed Alshamrani, 21, acted alone when he opened fire inside a classroom
at the base early on Friday morning.
The bureau said it was not ruling out labeling the violence as an act of
terrorism, but that it still had many people to interview on Monday and
was still collecting evidence at what it called an active crime scene.
The New York Times reported late Sunday that it had reviewed an official
complaint Alshamrani lodged in April against an instructor at the base
who had made derogatory comments about his appearance, but that there
was no apparent connection between that incident and the shooting.
The FBI confirmed on Sunday that Alshamrani had legally purchased
somewhere in Florida the Glock 9mm pistol he used in the shooting.
DeSantis said he was able to buy the firearm because of a "federal
loophole" in gun laws that allow nonimmigrant foreign nationals to
purchase weapons for an array of reasons, including if they simply have
a hunting license.
[to top of second column]
Royal Saudi Air Force 2nd Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani,
airman accused of killing three people at a U.S. Navy base in
Pensacola, Florida, is seen in an undated military identification
card photo released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation December
7, 2019. FBI/Handout via REUTERS.
"I'm big supporter of the Second Amendment, but it's so Americans
can keep and bear arms, not Saudi Arabians," the governor told
Alshamrani was on the base as part of a U.S. Navy training program
designed to foster links with foreign allies. He had started
training in the United States in 2017 and had been in the Pensacola
area for the past 18 months, authorities said.
His fellow Saudi students were speaking directly with American
investigators and were restricted to the base on order of the Saudi
military, Rojas said.
(Reporting by Brad Brooks)
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