The third victim killed by a Saudi gunman at Naval Air Station Pensacola has been identified as a young airman apprentice.
Friends paid tribute to Cameron Scott Walters, 21, from Richmond Hill, Georgia, saying he was a ‘kind-hearted’ and ‘wonderful’ person.
He was killed along with Mohammed Haitham, 19, and Joshua Kaleb Watson, 21, on Friday by gunman Mohammed al-Shamrani – a Saudi Arabian aviator being trained in the US.
Haitham was earlier praised for ‘trying to stop the gunman’, and Watson – who was shot five times – had crawled outside to give first responders details about the gunman’s position before he died, ‘saving countless lives in the process’.
Cameron Scott Walters, 21, from Richmond Hill, Georgia, was named as the third victim
Joshua Kaleb Watson (left) and Mohammed Haitham (right) were two of three killed in the suspected terrorist shooting
Haitham’s step mother, Brenda Delgado Haitham, posted a message on Facebook which read: ‘My step son Mohammed, was one of the victims whose life was taken by a senseless coward, on Friday’s Naval- Base attack.
‘May Allah grant my husband, Mohammed’s mom, and the rest of his family, strength and patience through this.’
Her Facebook post began with a Koranic verse – Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un – which is translated as ‘Indeed, to God we belong and to God we shall return.’
Haitham, known as ‘Mo’ to those who knew him, was a track and field star from Lakewood, Florida, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
He graduated from high school in 2018 and joined the Navy soon afterward. Haitham completed boot camp and was assigned to flight crew training in Florida.
Over Thanksgiving, he surprised his family in St. Petersburg by showing up at home.
‘He looked like a man all of a sudden,’ said Kim Walker, a family friend.
Evelyn Brady, his mother who herself is a Navy veteran and who now works for the Veterans’ Administration, said she was informed of her son’s death.
‘The commander of his school did call me,’ she said.
‘He told me my son did try to stop the shooter.’
Haitham was also remembered as a popular kid in high school, where he was well liked by his peers and his teachers while excelling at sports.
Walters (left) with his family shortly after completing boot camp earlier in November
His step mother, Brenda Delgado Haitham, posted a message on Facebook which read: ‘My step son Mohammed, was one of the victims whose life was taken by a senseless coward, on Friday’s Naval- Base attack’
Haitham is seen above with his diploma after graduating from Lakewood High School in Florida last year
Haitham recently returned home to surprise his family during the Thanksgiving holiday
He had just recently completed boot camp in the Navy and was assigned to flight crew training
Known as ‘Mo’ to his friends, Haitham was a popular athlete in high school and beloved by his peers
After graduating from high school, Haitham joined the United States Navy and completed boot camp
Haitham is seen far right after his enlistment into the Navy
Haitham is seen above during his time as a track and field athlete at Lakewood High School
‘He was an all-around great kid,’ said Kathleen Ovack Tobin, Haitham’s journalism teacher.
‘He was so nice, and a super athlete.’
A number of Haitham’s friends posted messages on social media expressing sadness over his death.
‘Me and [Haitham] used to talk about EVERYTHING,’ wrote Dierra Bradley.
‘[H]e was my open ear to talk about my baking business, anime movies and whatever else came to our mind.
‘He was so excited about traveling and being in the service. He’s just gone way to soon.’
In another post, Bradley wrote: ‘Couldn’t sleep last night with the thought that your no longer here, sending you messages, HOPING you’d reply back telling me this is not true and that your okay/fine.
‘But I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that I lost one of my best friends yesterday.
Me and [Haitham] used to talk about EVERYTHING,’ wrote Dierra Bradley. ‘[H]e was my open ear to talk about my baking business, anime movies and whatever else came to our mind’
In another post, Bradley wrote: ‘Couldn’t sleep last night with the thought that your no longer here, sending you messages, HOPING you’d reply back telling me this is not true and that your okay/fine.’
‘You was such a sweet person,’ wrote Ja’Lissa Lyons
‘So many young lives taken in the past (sic) month it’s getting too crazy,’ wrote Aujonee Dunbar
‘I’m so sorry Muhammad,’ wrote Kimbella Rene after hearing of the death of her friend
‘I remember being nervous to talk to you because I had a crush on you, and how we be became lab partners in chem and would always joke around.
‘You was nothing but a good person/soul, you ALWAYS made me laugh and was VERY kind.
‘NOT ONE PERSON have something bad to say bout you. You was full of good energy and positive vibes, even on your worse days.
‘I still remember the last day/time I saw/spoke to you, and your last words to me.
‘It just doesn’t feel real, and yet I don’t want it to. RIP Jitterbug, Love You forever and always.’
Watson was a recent graduate of the United States Naval Academy.
In a heartbreaking tribute on Facebook, Watson’s brother wrote that he ‘saved countless lives today with his own.’
‘After being shot multiple times he made it outside and told the first response team where the shooter was and those details were invaluable. He died a hero,’ wrote brother Adam Watson.
The assault, which is being investigated as terror-related, ended when a sheriff’s deputy killed the gunman.
Watson was a native of Enterprise, Alabama who was actively involved in JROTC and National Honor Society in high school.
After graduating from high school in 2014, he spent four years at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he competed as part of the academy’s elite rifle team. He graduated from the academy in May and was commissioned as an ensign.
Video from the graduation ceremony shows Watson proudly taking the oath of office to defend the Constitution, as his loving parents and other family members look on.
Watson was a native of Enterprise, Alabama who was actively involved in JROTC and National Honor Society in high school
Watson is seen with his mother just prior to graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in May
Proud friends and family members attended as Watson was commissioned as an ensign
Watson competed as part of the Naval Academy’s elite rifle team
Watson’s father, Benjamin Watson, told the Pensacola News Journal that his son dreamed of becoming a Navy pilot.
He said he had reported to Pensacola two weeks ago to begin flight training. ‘He died serving his country,’ Benjamin Watson said.
Twelve people were hurt in the attack on Friday, including the two sheriff’s deputies who were the first to respond, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said.
One of the deputies was shot in the arm and the other in the knee, and both were expected to recover, he said.
Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani was a Saudi aviator training at the U.S. naval station
The shooter Alshamrani was a second lieutenant attending the aviation school at the station.
The Pentagon says his training with the US military began in August 2016, and was due to finish in August 2020.
On Friday evening, the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist media, claimed they had tracked a Twitter account belonging to Alshamrani which featured a disturbing manifesto written just hours before the shooting.
‘I’m against evil, and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil,’ it read.
‘I’m not against you for just being American, I don’t hate you because your freedoms, I hate you because every day you supporting, funding and committing crimes not only against Muslims but also humanity,’ Alshamrani wrote.
Investigators were working to determine if if the tweet was in fact written by the shooter.
The FBI continued to investigate the shooting in Pensacola on Saturday
An FBI investigator is seen above collecting evidence at the scene of Friday’s shooting on Saturday
The American Red Cross also dispatched emergency crews to the scene of the shooting in Pensacola
A massive police response is seen on the station during a lockdown for the shooting
Naval Air Station Pensacola is the home base of the Navy’s revered Blue Angels
Meanwhile six other Saudi nationals were arrested near the station shortly after the attack, as investigators began to probe a terror link.
Three of the six were seen filming the entire incident as it unfolded, a source told the New York Times.
No officials have yet stated whether any of them were students inside the classroom where the shooting occurred.
Military members from around the globe receive training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, which is the home base of the Navy’s revered Blue Angels aerial demonstration team.
Saudi Arabia, a major purchaser of U.S. weapons, sends thousands of military members a year for training in America.
For fiscal year 2019, the State Department planned to train roughly 3,150 Saudis in the U.S. at a cost of more than $100 million.
Saudis rush to try to ease US tensions after the attack
The shooting threatened to further strain U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, as it seeks to repair its image of being a global exporter of Islamic extremism.
Perhaps most notoriously, 15 out of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi nationals. A lawsuit by the victims’ families alleges the Saudi government also played a role in planning the attacks, which the kingdom denies.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz (left) talks to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at an event last month. The kingdom is seeking to distance itself from the attacker
A man in a Jiddah coffee shop reads the daily Al-Madina newspaper fronted by a picture of Saudi King Salman on Saturday. The Arabic of the lead headline reads ‘King Salman to Donald J. Trump: the Florida shooter does not represent the Saudi people’
On Saturday, Saudi Arabia sought to distance itself from the Pensacola gunman after King Salman telephoned President Donald Trump to denounce the shooting as ‘heinous’ and pledge cooperation with American officials to investigate the incident.
The king added in the phone call on Friday that the shooter, who was gunned down by police, ‘does not represent the Saudi people’.
Trump tweeted about the call, saying: ‘The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people.’
Trump presided in 2017 over one of the largest arms deals in history, when he agreed for the U.S. to sell Saudi weapons systems totaling US$110 billion immediately, and $350 billion over 10 years.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday that he had spoken with Saudi Foreign Minister Al-Saud, who ‘expressed his condolences and sadness’ at the shooting.
The family of the shooter echoed the sentiment that his actions did not represent the subjects of the kingdom.
The pro-government Okaz newspaper quoted one of his uncles, Saad al-Shamrani, as saying that his actions do not reflect the ‘humanity and loyalty of his family’ to the kingdom’s leadership.
Seeking to play up their ties to America after the attack, many Saudis on social media highlighted U.S. media reports about two exchange students from Saudi Arabia who drowned last year in Massachusetts after rushing into a river to rescue two small children.
But Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suggested Riyadh should offer compensation to the victims.
‘The government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims, and I think they’re going to owe a debt here given that this is one of their individuals,’ DeSantis said.
Horror shooting unfolded in classroom building at the Naval station
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said a 911 call was received at 6.51am central time reporting an active shooter at the Naval station.
Two deputies confronted the gunman inside a classroom building and exchanged gunfire, killing the perpetrator.
It has since been revealed that the gunman was armed with a handgun.
One of the officers suffered a gunshot wound to the arm, while the other was shot in the knee and underwent surgery.
Morgan said both deputies are expected to recover.
In total, eight people were taken to Baptist Health Care in Pensacola, one of whom later died.
Law enforcement and US Navy officials declined to release any information concerning the identities of the shooter and the victims pending the notification of next of kin.
Police vehicles block the entrance to the Pensacola Air Base on Friday after the shooting
The USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) is seen arriving for a port visit at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola in a file photo
Commanding officer Timothy Kinsella said the station’s security forces first responded to the shooting before outside police agencies arrived.
The facility, which is used for training and made up mostly of classrooms, ‘is shut down until further notice,’ he said.
Sheriff Morgan said the crime scene was spread over two floors, which were left littered with spent shell casings.
‘Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie,’ he revealed.
Federal agencies are investigating, authorities said, including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
St. John’s Catholic School, located directly outside the air station, was placed on lockdown as a precaution.
Twenty ‘hand-picked’ Saudi airmen training at Pensacola are among the 62,700 foreign military personnel the US trains each year
In the 2018 fiscal year, some 62,700 foreign military students from 155 countries participated in U.S.-run training, the total cost of which was approximately $776.3 million, according to DoD records.
Among them is a contingent Saudis who recently arrived at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
In recent weeks, 18 naval aviators and two aircrew members from the Royal Saudi Naval Forces were training with the U.S. Navy, including a stint at Pensacola, according to a November 15 press release from the Navy.
It was not clear if the suspected shooter was part of that delegation.
The delegation came under a Navy program that offers training to U.S. allies, known as the Naval Education and Training Security Assistance Field Activity.
A person familiar with the program said that Saudi Air Force officers selected for military training in the United States are intensely vetted by both countries.
The Saudi personnel are ‘hand-picked’ by their military and often come from elite families, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they did not have permission to speak to a reporter. Trainees must speak excellent English, the person said.
Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Washington did not respond to questions.
Saudi Arabia, a major purchaser of U.S. arms, accounts for a massive portion of America’s spending on foreign military training.
In the 2018 fiscal year, the U.S. trained 1,753 Saudi military members at an estimated cost of $120,903,786, according to DoD records.
For fiscal year 2019, the State Department planned to train roughly 3,150 Saudis in the U.S.
-Keith Griffith for DailyMail.com and Reuters