Gov. DeSantis seeking answers on Saudi nationals after base shooting

Florida
Naval Air Base Station

FILE- In this Jan. 29, 2016 file photo shows the entrance to the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla. The US Navy is confirming that an active shooter and one other person are dead after gunfire at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Area hospital representatives tell The Associated Press that at least 11 people were hospitalized. The base remains locked down amid a huge law enforcement response. (AP Photo/Melissa Nelson, File)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News Service) – It’s been more than a month since the deadly terrorist attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola. The U.S. Secretary of Defense visited the air station Wednesday and met with Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The three American servicemen killed and the eight who were injured during the December terrorist attack at NAS Pensacola were honored by the Florida Senate at the start of the 2020 Legislative Session. The attack was carried out by a Saudi national who was receiving trained at the base.

“You know the people of Pensacola, it’s a great military town, they’ve welcomed a lot of these foreign folks there. They’re kind of part of the community and I think a lot of them felt like they really got stabbed in the back,” said DeSantis.

So far, 21 Saudis have been expelled from the country. DeSantis got his first chance on Wednesday to get a full update on how the federal government plans to respond.

He told reporters he had tough questions for U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper prior to their meeting at the Pensacola base.

“Clearly if you look at this guy, I mean this is a big problem that you would have someone like that in our country, training them. So I’m going to be asking some hard questions,” DeSantis said. “Now the secretary has been very responsive. The day it happened, we’re on the phone, he kept in contact and I think he understands that this was a really significant incident.”

Florida Sen. Doug Broxson, who represents Pensacola, said he’s confident the federal government will take the appropriate actions.

“I know it’s a very complicated issue because we’re selling equipment to them that they have to know how to use and so I’m totally dependent on the governor and the president and the Congress in trying to resolve that issue to make sure that the rest of us are safe,” said Broxson.

Later in the day, Secretary Esper said the government has increased screenings for foreigners training at U.S. military bases. Governor DeSantis seemed to approve, though he has previously called on the Saudi government to compensate victims and their families.

He’s also asked for legislation at the state or federal level that could ban non-citizens from legally buying a gun.

DeSantis will be meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Thursday. He’s been working with the Secretary to try and secure compensation from Saudi Arabia for the victims.

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