He was identified by WSFA-TV as Joshua Kaleb Watson, a graduate of Enterprise High School. His brother, Adam Watson, wrote on Twitter that Joshua died a hero.
The second victim was named as Mohammed Haitham, a Lakewood High School track and field star, by The Tampa Bay Times, which added that he tried to stop the shooter. He, too, died a hero.
The Navy officially released the names of all three victims on December 7. They are:
-Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Student, Naval Aviation Schools Command, 23, from Coffee, Alabama
-Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, Student, Naval Aviation Schools Command, 19, from St. Petersburg, Florida
-Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, Student, Naval Aviation Schools Command, 21, from Richmond Hill, Georgia
Authorities say that a member of the Saudi Air Force, a Saudi national named Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, opened fire while in a classroom at Pensacola Naval Air Station (Pensacola NAS) on December 6, 2019. When the dust cleared, three people were dead (not counting the shooter, who was killed by a sheriff’s deputy). Eight other people were injured and rushed to hospitals. Authorities have not formally released the victims’ names. Once each deceased victim is named, a tribute will be added to this story.
Authorities are investigating whether terrorism was the motive for the attack, which unfolded over two floors of a classroom building on the military base. However, they have not yet declared it so. Meanwhile, a site that tracks jihadist activity online claims it’s unearthed a manifesto on Twitter that may have been written by the shooter. You can learn more about that here. The Associated Press is now reporting that the “base shooter hosted dinner party to watch mass shooting videos…before fatal attack,” according to Fox 6 Phoenix.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said in a news conference that he had spoken to the president. “This is a special place… all these brave warriors who wear the wings, they come here for flight training. This is a dark day for a very great place.” He said it “strikes at the heart of the community” – both Pensacola and the Navy overall.
“This day will be etched in your memory for the rest of your life,” Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said of the effect on families and the Naval community. But he said people could be proud of the Navy and community. “Thank God for the United States of America,” Morgan said.
Here’s what you need to know about each victim named so far:
Joshua Kaleb Watson
Joshua Kaleb Watson “dreamed of going to the Naval Academy and serving his country,” according to WSFA, which reported that Watson was a 2014 EHS graduate, where he was rifle team squad captain, a member of JROTC, National Honor Society, and the French Honor Society.
Watson’s brother, Adam Watson, wrote a heart-wrenching Facebook post.
“Today has been the worst day of my life,” he wrote. “My youngest brother gave his life for his country in a senseless shooting. Joshua Kaleb Watson 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 and we are beyond proud but there is a whole in our hearts that can never be filled. When we were little I gave Kaleb the name little poot and it stuck. It eventually evolved into poot is and finally uncle poot. Just wish I could talk to him one more time or wrestle with him one more time even though he could probably take me now. Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers in this difficult time.”
On his Facebook page, Joshua shared photos showing him in uniform. “Hellll yes. Future of Naval Aviation right here,” wrote one friend on a January post.
A friend, Lauren Ashley, also wrote a tribute. “The world will not be the same without you Josh! Seeing your face on the news this morning continues to break my heart after hearing about the tragedy yesterday,” she wrote. “Joshua Kaleb Watson was hands down the nicest and most respectful athlete that we loved dearly at NC State everytime we competed against Navy Rifle. Yesterday the tragedy at NAS Pensacola leaves our rifle community heartbroken and feeling for his entire family.”
She added, “I will never forget Josh for his sportsmanship and friendship! My team and I will never forget the card games, jokes and shenanigans at rifle matches. Thinking of his family all day ? A hero and truly great human being is gone too soon. All tens from now, on we love you! #JKW.”
You can read more about Josh Watson here.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Mohammed Haitham was a “track and field star at Lakewood, known for his long legs, big smile and good high jump scores.”
He graduated from high school in 2018 and joined the Navy. His mother told the newspaper that she was told that Haitham was also a hero who “did try to stop the shooter.” She is also a Navy veteran.
Haitham was called Mo by friends. His Facebook page says he “went to Lakewood High School (Florida).
Lives in Saint Petersburg, Florida. From New Orleans, Louisiana.”
Cameron Scott Walters
Little information has been released about Cameron Walters, but more will be added when it is obtained.
“The sorrow from the tragic event on NAS Pensacola will have a lasting impact on our installation and community,” said Capt. Tim Kinsella, commanding officer, NAS Pensacola. “We feel the loss profoundly and grieve with the family and friends of the deceased. The Sailors that lost their lives in the line of duty and 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.”