A gunman opened fire in a classroom at a Florida naval base in the early hours of Friday morning and killed at least three people.
At least five others, including two sheriff’s deputies, were injured in the incident at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, and the suspected gunman was also shot dead. Officials wouldn’t confirm at a press conference later Friday morning whether the gunman was military personnel.
“Walking through the crime scene was like being on a set of a movie,” said Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan. “We are here to pick up the pieces.”
Escambia County Sheriff’s Department received reports of shots fired at 6:51 a.m. local time at the Navy base, which employs 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel, and the location was placed on lockdown. By 7:48, the sheriff’s office confirmed that one suspect was dead, and the active shooter situation was over.
Capt. Timothy Kinsella, the commanding officer at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, said that the base is shut down until further notice, and he’s working on getting personnel off the base in an “orderly and safe manner.”
He also believes that the shooting could have been much worse if the base hadn’t received training about what to do in an active shooter situation. And, he said, they’ll be looking at what they can do better in the future.
“We will look at lessons learned from this,” Kinsella said. “We are not an organization in stasis …. We learn from events like this to ensure we do it better.”
The Pensacola Naval Air Station is the initial primary training base for all U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard officers looking to become naval aviators and naval flight officers. It’s also the training base for most naval flight officers.
Friday morning’s shooting came just days after an American sailor opened fire on Hawaii’s historic Pearl Harbor Shipyard and killed two people before turning the gun on himself.
“Saddened to hear of the horrible shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola & continuing to monitor the situation,” Vice President Mike Pence wrote on Twitter. “Praying for the victims & their families & we commend the first responders for their swift action in taking down the shooter & getting those on base to safety.”
Cover image: In this Jan. 29, 2016 photo shows the entrance to the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla. The naval base is making it harder for the public to access certain areas of the waterfront base popular with the public as the home of the Blue Angels and prime beaches. (AP Photo/Melissa Nelson)