Here’s Defense Secretary Mark Esper downplaying reports that Saudis filmed one of their colleagues shooting Americans at a US military base as if it’s a totally normal thing: “You know, today, people pull out their phones and film everything and anything that happens.” pic.twitter.com/486t4E5zcy
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 8, 2019
Defense Secretary Mark Epser said Sunday that at least one of the colleagues of a suspected shooter filmed the incident.
“I also was also told that some one or two were filming it,” he said on Fox News Sunday. “What’s unclear is were they filming it before it began, or was it something where they picked up their phones and filmed it once they saw it unfolding. That may be a distinction with or without a difference. But again, that’s why I think we need to let the investigation play out.”
Host Chris Wallace pressed him on this.
“That would not be a normal response to film one of your colleagues who’s shooting Americans,” he said.
“I don’t know,” Esper said. “I’m not trying to pass a judgement at this point in time. Today, people pull out their phones and film everything and anything that happens.”
Law enforcement officials reportedly say there’s no official concern about people who recorded the incident. From NBC News:
Some Saudi students captured video of the attack, but law enforcement sources said Saturday there was no official concern about the filming and that multiple witnesses had made recordings.
A gunman slew three people and injured eight at the Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday, say officials. The slain victims were identified as Ensign Joshua Kalab Watson, 23, Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, 19, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, 21. Capt. Tim Kinsella credited them with “exceptional heroism and bravery,” and said they saved lives during the incident.
Shootings often tap into public fissures in the United States. This one is a little different. The suspect was identified as Mohammed Alshamrani, a 21-year-old Saudi Air Force officer training in the United States as part of a joint program between the U.S. and allies. To be clear, authorities say nothing specific about the alleged motive. They said Sunday that the incident remains under investigation.
Nonetheless, the shooting carries international implications.
Hmmm….15 Saudis attack us on 9/11. The Saudi government kills a US journalist. A Saudi pilot in training kills 3 of our soldiers. Can anyone spot the common thread? My take: It’s way past time to quit arming and training the Saudis!https://t.co/TqUSxDRTuT
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 8, 2019
Update – December 8, 2019, 4:59 p.m.: We added information that investigators reportedly say they had no concerns about people who recorded the incident.
[Image via Josh Brasted/Getty Images]