Attorney General William P. Barr Announces the Findings of the Criminal Investigation into the December 2019 Shooting at Pensacola Naval Air Station
Good afternoon, and thank you for coming. We are here to discuss the results of the investigation into the shooting that occurred on Dec. 6, 2019 at Pensacola Naval Air Station. Joining me today are 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.
I want to thank the FBI and the other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies involved in responding to and investigating the incident for their rapid and excellent work. Many people worked long hours through the holidays, and I am grateful for their diligence and commitment to seeing this through. You will be hearing from Deputy Director Bowdich shortly about the details of the FBI investigative work, which was superb. In considering this case, we have to remember that there are thousands of allied pilots and other military personnel receiving training on military bases throughout the United States. These military partnerships are critically important to the United States. The Royal Saudi Air Force, which flies American-made aircraft, is an important military partner, and has long had a training relationship with us.
On Dec. 6, 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force, entered a building on the grounds of Pensacola Naval Air Station and killed three U.S. sailors and severely wounded eight other Americans. Alshamrani was killed during the attack. This was an act of terrorism. The evidence shows that the shooter was motivated by jihadist ideology. During the course of the investigation, we learned that the shooter posted a message on social media on Sept. 11 of last year that said: “the countdown has begun.” Over Thanksgiving weekend, he visited the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. He also posted other anti-American, anti-Israeli, and jihadi messages on social media, and did so two hours before his attack at the naval base. Early reports indicated that the shooter arrived at the site, accompanied by other Saudi cadets, who took video of the attack as it unfolded. These reports turned out not to be accurate. The shooter arrived by himself. Other Saudi cadets happened to be in the area and, after the attack began, they took some videos of the resulting commotion. They fully cooperated in the investigation, as did the other Saudi cadets who were interviewed by the FBI at Pensacola and at additional bases across the country. After Alshamrani entered the building and cased the facility, he proceeded to walk around shooting down his unarmed victims in cold blood.
During and after this heinous attack, there were many specific acts of courage, and I want to draw special attention to two U.S. Marines: Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Maisel and Staff Sgt. Samuel Mullins. They were outside the building when they heard gunfire and, although unarmed, they ran into the building to confront the shooter. Their only weapon was a fire extinguisher that they had pulled off the wall as they ran toward the gunfire. Who but the Marines? Although they were unable to engage the shooter, they helped save many lives by performing CPR and other medical aid on the victims. I would also like to mention the heroic acts of Navy Airman Ryan Blackwell. The shooter shot Airman Blackwell five times, yet Ryan still managed to jump on top of a fellow sailor to keep her from being shot. He further assisted other students and helped them escape, all while taking additional fire from the shooter. Airman Blackwell's heroic acts also saved countless lives that day. We are grateful as well for the bravery of the base personnel and local law enforcement responders who initially arrived at the scene and engaged the shooter.