A member of the Saudi military who was in the US for training opened fire at a naval base in Florida Friday. In the wake of the shooting that killed three people, the Trump administration has been repeatedly telling the public how sorry Saudi Arabia is about what happened.
The suspect, whom news outlets have identified as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani , killed three and injured seven others at Naval Air Station Pensacola before he was killed by local law enforcement, authorities said.
The incident has the potential to stress the alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia, but the president and other members of his administration seem determined to prevent that.
After expressing his personal sympathies, President Donald Trump tweeted Friday afternoon that King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had called the Trump to “express his sincere condolences.”
The suspect is said to have hosted a dinner party prior to the shooting where he and other Saudi students at the base watched mass shooting videos. Additionally, a Twitter page believed to belong to the suspect but that has since been suspended was reportedly filled with anti-American posts and Osama bin Laden quotes.
Speaking Saturday, Trump revealed that the Saudi Arabian leadership was “devastated” by the attack, adding that they will be involved in taking care of the families affected by the incident.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also stepped in to highlight the feelings of his Saudi counterpart, Foreign Minister Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia.
In response to Pompeo’s tweet, Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, tweeted: “It’s unnerving how eager everyone in this Administration is to be PR agents for the Saudis.”
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Saturday that he was not prepared to call the shooting an act of terrorism, perhaps because authorities and investigators have yet to determine a motive. Esper further explained that the incident at NAS Pensacola would not affect his decision making on US troop deployments to Saudi Arabia.
“Saudi Arabia is a longstanding partner of ours in the region,” he said.
After the tragic shooting Friday, Esper said in a statement that he is “considering several steps to ensure the security of our military installations and the safety of our service members and their families.” On Saturday, he clarified that entails boosting base security and strengthening the vetting process.
Trump has also said that perhaps the US needs to take a look at how the American military trains foreign nationals in the US.