WASHINGTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The shooting at Pensacola Naval Air Station a month ago was an act of terrorism.
That's according to Attorney General William Barr Monday afternoon. Barr, along with David Bowdich, Deputy Director of the FBI; John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Michael Sherwin, Associate Deputy Attorney General for National Security; Rachel Rojas, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Field Office in Jacksonville, Florida; and Larry Keefe, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, held a press conference in Washington D.C. on the criminal investigation into the December shooting.
Barr said on December 6, 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, who was a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force, walked into a building on the Pensacola Naval Air Station and killed three U.S. sailors and injured eight others. Alshamrani was killed during the attack.
He said evidence shows this was an act of terrorism.
He said Alshamrani was motivated by jihadist ideology and posted anti-American, anti-Israeli, and jihadi messages on social media, just two hours before the shooting at the base.
Barr went on to say Alshamrani walked around shooting down unarmed victims in cold blood.
This case started a counter-terrorism investigation to see if anyone else was involved in the attacks. While there was no evidence of the attack by other members of the Saudi military, or any other foreign nationals who are training in the United States, it did expose derogatory material of 21 other members of the Saudi military who are training in the United States.
Bars said 17 people had social media containing some jihadi or anti-American content, but there was no evidence of any affiliation or involvement with terrorist activities or groups. They say 15 people had some kind of contact with child pornography.
In all, 21 people from the Saudi Royal Air Force and Royal Navy have been disenrolled from their training curriculum in the United States military and will be going back to Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia determined this material demonstrated conduct unbecoming of an officer and will review each case under their code of military justice and criminal code.
Barr went on to talk about Alshamrani's two iPhones. He said Alshamrani shot one of his phones during the shoot out and the other phone appeared damaged. Authorities wanted to search both phones in an effort to run down all leads and figure out who the shooter was talking to. Barr said engineers have fixed the phones, but both phones are locked. He said they have asked for Apple's help in unlocking the shooter's phones, but have not received help from the company.
Barr also took the time Monday to talk about the heroes of that day.
He talked about two U.S. Marines who were outside the building when the shooting happened. He says Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Maisel and Staff Sgt. Samuel Mullins, despite being unarmed, ran towards the sound of gunfire. He says their only weapon was a fire extinguisher they pulled off the wall as they ran towards the shooter. Although neither man engaged the shooter, they helped save lives by performing CPR and providing other medical aid to shooting victims.
He also mentioned Navy Airman Ryan Blackwell. He say Alshamrani shot Blackwell five times, yet Blackwell was still able to shield a fellow sailor and help other students escape. He said Blackwell's heroic acts saved countless lives that day.
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