Two Military Base Shootings This Week Leave Defense Civilians in 'Fear, Terror, Sadness and Grief'
At least two civilian employees were killed as others witnessed events or hid in offices.
A gunman killed three people and injured several others at a naval air station in Pensacola, Florida, on Friday, marking the second deadly shooting at a military base this week.
A Navy sailor at the Pearl Harbor Shipyard in Hawaii killed two civilian Defense Department employees and sent another to the hospital after opening fire on Wednesday. The shooter’s motive is not yet known and the suspect took his own life. All three of the victims worked as inspectors at the shipyard.
The shooter at Pensacola Naval Air Station was fatally shot by law enforcement. Officials identified the individual as a member of the Saudi Arabian Air Force in the United States for training. The victims had not yet been identified as of Friday afternoon. The base employs 7,400 civilians and 16,000 military personnel. The shooter opened fire in a classroom on the base early Friday morning, authorities said, and left two officers injured. The facility remained on lockdown Friday morning, though authorities said the threat had been negated.
“Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie,” said David Morgan, sheriff of Escambia County.
Cap. Timothy Kinsella, the base's commanding officer, praised the response team members for their efforts and preparations.
“I think it could’ve been a lot, lot worse if we didn’t train the way we do to try to minimize casualties,” Kinsella said.
The American Federation of Government Employees represents some of the civilians at the Florida base, but a spokesman in the national office did not have details on whether its members were directly impacted by the shooting.
"Our hearts are heavy as we hear the news about today’s deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola," said Everett Kelley, the union's national secretary-treasurer. "We pray for the safety of all the civilian employees and service members working at the base, especially our sisters and brothers at AFGE Local 1960, and we mourn for those who lost their lives."
Families of the victims at the Pearl Harbor Shipyard identified Vincent Kapoi, Jr. and Roldan Agustin as the two employees who were killed Wednesday, according to Hawaii News Now.
Jamie Hiranaka, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Employees local at Pearl Harbor, called their deaths a loss not just to their family and friends but to the shipyard, the Navy and the nation.
“[Wednesday] was an experience that will forever be ingrained in the minds of our members and all the workers at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard,” Hiranaka said. “Workers were in lockdown on base for hours [Wednesday]; some were witnesses, others heard the gunshots, others locked down into the closest building they could find but most were locked in their offices not knowing what was happening. Many emotions were felt ... but most were of fear, terror, sadness and grief.”
The third employee who sustained injuries is in stable condition. Hiranaka said IFPTE is doing everything it can to get employees any help they need and “stands ready to assist in every way possible.”
IFPTE’s national office said the union's members should not have to go to work without expecting to return home safely.
“These victims are not only dedicated IFPTE union members, they are hard-working public servants who go to work each day to serve the taxpayers and our military forces,” the union stated. “They are reflective of the thousands of workers at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere that go to work to earn a living and serve their nation.”
This story has been updated with additional details.
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