PENSACOLA, Fla. — The Saudi student who fatally shot three people at a U.S. naval base in Florida hosted a dinner party earlier in the week where he and three others watched videos of mass shootings, a U.S. official told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Officials investigating the deadly attack were working Saturday to determine whether it was motivated by terrorism, while President Donald Trump indicated he would review policies governing foreign military training in the United States.
Family members on Saturday identified two of the shooting victims, both of whom were hailed as heroes for trying to stop the shooter and flagging down first responders after being shot.
The shooter opened fire inside a classroom at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday, killing three people and wounding two sheriff’s deputies, one in the arm and one in the knee, before one of the deputies killed him. Eight others were also hurt. Both deputies were expected to survive.
The official who spoke Saturday said one of the three students who attended the dinner party hosted by the attacker recorded video outside the classroom building while the shooting was taking place. Two other Saudi students watched from a car, the official said.
Ten Saudi students were being held on the base Saturday while several others were unaccounted for, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity after being briefed by federal authorities.
A U.S. official on Friday identified the shooter as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. The official also said the FBI was examining social media posts and investigating whether he acted alone or was connected to any broader group.
Two U.S. officials identified the student as a second lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force, and said Friday that authorities were investigating whether the attack was terrorism-related. They spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose information that had not yet been made public.
In remarks at a gathering of top U.S. defense and military officials on Saturday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper was asked whether he could say definitively that the shooting was an act of terrorism.
“No, I can’t say it’s terrorism at this time,” he said, adding that the investigation needs to proceed. He declined to discuss details of the investigation so far.
President Trump also declined to say whether the shooting was terrorism-related. The president tweeted his condolences to the families of the victims on Friday and noted that Saudi King Salman had reassured him in a telephone call that the shooter “in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people.