The FBI said Sunday that it is treating the mass shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola as an act of terrorism so it can amass more resources to investigate whether the Saudi gunman was spurred by an “ideology.”
Special Agent in Charge Rachel Rojas said authorities have not yet pinpointed shooter Mohammed Alshamrani’s motive for Friday’s ambush, which killed three and wounded eight.
“I can tell you that we are looking very hard at uncovering his motive and I would ask for patience so we can get this right,” Rojas said at an afternoon press briefing.
“As we speak, members of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and Counterterrorism Division are working tirelessly to discern any possible ideology that may have been a factor in this attack.”
Rojas said that investigators are sure there was only one gunman. But they are still trying to answer a trial question: “Did he act alone or was he part of a larger network?”
Alshamrani, 21, was a second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force who was part of an aviation training program at the Navy base.
Using a legally purchased Glock 9mm handgun, he opened fire early Friday in a classroom, killing three aviation students: Airman Mohammed Sameh Hathaim, 19, Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, 21. Eight others, including two deputies, were wounded in a gunfight with Alshamrani, who was shot dead.
There have been reports that Alshamrani screened mass shooting videos for fellow Saudi trainees at a dinner party before the attack, that he and other students visited New York City recently, and that some of the Saudi students were videotaping as the shooting took place.
Rojas declined to comment on all those reports.
She said several Saudi students who were close to Alshamrani have been restricted to base by their commanding officer and are cooperating with investigators. No other arrests have been made.