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Investigators Search for Motive in Pensacola Naval Air Station Shooting

Investigators in Florida and Saudi Arabia are continuing to investigate potential motives behind a fatal shooting at Pensacola Naval Base. On Friday, 6 December, a Saudi aviation student fatally shot three people and wounded eight more on the U.S. base.

Officials are treating the shooting as an act of terrorism and are investigating whether the gunman was working as part of a larger network. At the moment, it appears that the gunman acted alone. He was shot dead by a sheriff’s deputy responding to the attack.

Treating the shooting as an act of terrorism enables FBI agents to take advantage of different investigative techniques to help identify and eliminate additional threats quickly, according to Rachel Rojas, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville Field Office, NPR reports.

Investigators said they believe that the shooter, Royal Saudi Air Force member Ahmed Mohammed al-Shamrani, authored an anti-American post on Twitter shortly before the shooting. It is unclear if any specific ideology fueled the attack, however, or if any collaborators are at large, The Washington Post reports.

“To confirm, we are not aware of any credible threat to the community at this time," an FBI spokesman said.

The Saudi government and a number of other Saudi students at the station who had been close with the shooter are cooperating with the investigation, Rojas said.

Air Force General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, who oversees U.S. base security, directed domestic bases and units to “immediately assess force protection measure and implement increased random security measures for their facilities,” according to a tweet from U.S. Northern Command.

The tweet also reiterates the frequent slogan: “See Something. Say Something.” 

ASIS has many resources available for security professionals seeking to mitigate active assailant threats. Visit the soft target and active shooter topic page for more information.