PENSACOLA, Fla. — The suspect in a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday morning was a Saudi national, according to two people familiar with the investigation.
The FBI has taken the lead in the investigation, though there has been no immediate determination on whether the shooting was terror related, the sources told USA TODAY.
The shooting — the second in a week at a U.S. Navy base — left four dead, including the suspect, and seven people wounded.
The shooting began around 6:30 a.m. central time and the suspect was stopped by two sheriff’s deputies before 8 a.m., authorities said.
Military from around the globe attend the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Located in the far western Panhandle, the base employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel.
The latest: Here’s what we know about the shooting at NAS Pensacola
Escambia County sheriff’s deputies responded to a classroom building on the base within “a couple of minutes” of receiving reports, said Chip Simmons, sheriff’s office deputy.
Two deputies stopped the shooter and were injured; One was shot in arm and treated at a local hospital, and one was shot in knee and was undergoing surgery. Authorities expected both to survive.
The shooting happened on two floors of the building.
Authorities did not say what type of firearm the shooter used.
Eight patients, including the deputies, were taken to nearby Baptist Hospital. One of the victims died at the hospital, and two died on the base. The shooter also died on the base.
The names of the victims will not be released until the next of kin have been notified, authorities said.
“Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie,” said Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan. “This doesn’t happen in Escambia County. This doesn’t happen in Pensacola. … So now we’re here to pick up the pieces.”
The Navy base will be closed all day Friday.
NAS Pensacola is home of the Blue Angels, the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, and the National Naval Aviation Museum. The air station is also the primary training base for all U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard officers pursuing designation as Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers.
“This is a tragic day for the city of Pensacola,” said Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson. “We’re a military town. Our hearts and prayers are connected to those that serve us every day. And certainly the expectation that this would happen to us here, at home, was unexpected.”
Vice President Mike Pence said on Twitter that he was “praying for the victims & their families.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz said in a video on Twitter that he was “deeply saddened” by Friday morning’s shootings. “NAS Pensacola is a huge source of pride for all of northwest Florida. It is the home of naval aviation. It is the home of the Blue Angels,” Gaetz said. “In our home, this is who we are. This is what we love.”
St. John’s Catholic School, located outside the front of the base, has been closed due to the lockdown. Corry Station, a naval training installation a few miles northwest of NAS Pensacola, has also been locked down as a precaution.
The shooting comes two days after a U.S. Navy sailor shot three people and then killed himself at Pearl Harbor.
Escambia County Commissioner Jeff Bergosh, who works at NAS Pensacola as a civilian contractor, said he was in line to go through the gate when it was shut down.
“There’s probably been 100 or so various law enforcement vehicles zooming down the wrong side on Navy Boulevard,” Bergosh said. “There’s been ambulances, fire trucks. It’s my understanding there’s multiple causalities.”
USA TODAY’s Grace Hauck reported from Chicago and Kevin Johnson from Washington, D.C.; Pensacola News Journal’s Annie Blanks reported from Pensacola, Florida
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