The Navy has identified three Navy trainees tragically killed when a Saudi aviation student opened fire inside a classroom building at Pensacola Naval Air Station Dec. 6.
Killed in the rampage were Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, from Coffee, Alabama; Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, 19, from St. Petersburg, Florida; and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, 21, from Richmond Hill, Georgia.
Watson, identified by his family as a recent U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was a student at Pensacola's Naval Aviation Schools Command. His family has come forward with accounts of how he managed to get outside the building despite mortal wounds and direct emergency responders to the location of the gunman.
Haitham and Walters were enlisted students, also at Naval Aviation Schools Command. The Navy has released no additional information about them. But in a statement, Pensacola Commanding Officer Capt. Tim Kinsella said the men showed "exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil."
"When confronted, they didn't run from danger; they ran towards it and saved lives. If not for their actions, and the actions of the Naval Security Force that were the first responders on the scene, this incident could have been far worse," he said.
He added that the tragedy would have a lasting impact on the base and the surrounding community.
"We feel the loss profoundly and grieve with the family and friends of the deceased," he said.
The base, which was locked down indefinitely following the shooting, is now open to mission-essential personnel, he said, although families who live on base will have access to their homes.
Also closed until further notice are the National Naval Aviation Museum and the Barrancas National Cemetery.
Seven others who were wounded in the shooting attack have not been identified. The shooter, who has been identified as Saudi Royal Air Force 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, was killed by a Escambia County Sheriff's Office Deputy.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly have said they plan to review security protocols in light of this and another fatal shooting at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam days earlier; the FBI is reportedly leading a global probe into the actions of the Saudi shooter.
-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.