Barbaric action of Florida shooter doesn’t represent Saudis, King tells Trump

A general view of the atmosphere at the Pensacola Naval Air Station following a shooting on Dec.06, 2019 in Pensacola, Florida. (AFP)
A general view of the atmosphere at the Pensacola Naval Air Station following a shooting on Dec.06, 2019 in Pensacola, Florida. (AFP)

MIAMI, Florida — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman offered his condolences to US President Donald Trump in a phone call after a Saudi Air Force trainee opened fire on Friday at a US naval base, killing three people before being shot dead by police.

"King Salman just called to express his sincere condolence and give his sympathies to the families and friends of the warriors who were killed and wounded in the attack that took place in Pensacola, Florida," Trump tweeted.

"The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people," the US president said.

King Salman also extended the Kingdom’s full support to the United States and directed the Saudi security services to cooperate with the relevant US agencies to help them determine the cause of this horrific crime, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Reacting to the gruesome incident, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan said: “The Kingdom expresses its deepest condolences to the families of victims, and to the American people.

“Today's tragic shooting at Pensacola, Florida, was a heinous crime. We salute the bravery of those who neutralized the threat and saved lives,” Prince Faisal wrote in a tweet.

Saudi Deputy Minister of Defense Prince Khalid Bin Salman also extended his sincerest condolences to the families of the victims.

Prince Khalid wrote in a tweet, “Like many other Saudi military personnel, I was trained in a US military base, and we used that valuable training to fight side by side with our American allies against terrorism and other threats”.

“A large number of Saudi graduates of the Naval Air Station in Pensacola moved on to serve with their US 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,” he said.

The Kingdom’s ambassador to the US Princess Reema Bint Bandar offered most sincere condolences to the American people on the tragedy that unfolded at Pensacola, Florida. “My thoughts are with the families of those impacted by this horrific attack,” she said.

“As a daughter of a former US 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.” She wrote in twitter.

The shooting, which took place in a classroom building at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, left eight people injured including two sheriff's deputies who responded to the attack.

"There's 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," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told a press conference.

Police received their first call about the shooting shortly before 7:00 a.m. (1200 GMT), Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said.

One of the responding deputies eventually killed the attacker, who used a handgun.

"Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie," Morgan said. "You don't expect this to happen."
Kinsella said the base's security forces first responded to the shooting before outside police agencies arrived.

Just two days earlier, a US sailor fatally shot two people and wounded a third at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii before taking his own life.

The Pensacola naval air station hosts 16,000 military personnel and more than 7,000 civilians, and is home to a flight demonstration squadron.

It is an early training center for naval pilots, and is known as the "cradle of naval aviation." — Agencies