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FBI says Texas naval base shooting is ‘terrorism-related’

An entrance to Naval Air Station-Corpus Christi
Entrances to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi are closed after an active shooter threat on May 21, 2020, in Corpus Christi, Texas. The naval base says the shooter was “neutralized” and the facility is on lockdown.
(Annie Rice / Corpus Christi Caller-Times )

A shooting at a Texas naval air station that wounded a sailor and left the gunman dead is being investigated as “terrorism-related,” the FBI said Thursday.

The shooting began around 6:15 a.m. Thursday at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.

The gunman tried to speed through a gate at the base in a vehicle and opened fire on security workers, U.S. officials said. A female sailor who is a member of the security force at the base was struck but was able to roll over and hit a switch that raised a barrier, stopping the vehicle from getting onto the base.

The man got out of the vehicle and was killed in an exchange of gunfire with security personnel, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details about an ongoing investigation.

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Initially there was concern that the shooter might have had explosives, the officials said, But Navy explosives experts did not find any.

The sailor was treated for a minor injury at a hospital and discharged, according to a statement from the station command.

The FBI is investigating the shooting as “terrorism-related,” FBI Special Agent Leah Greeves said at a news conference Thursday afternoon, and investigators were working to determine whether a second person of interest was at large in the community.

“We have determined that the incident this morning at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi is terrorism-related,” Greeves said. “We are working diligently with our state, local and federal partners on this investigation, which is fluid and evolving.”

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Greeves did not elaborate on a potential motive or specify what led investigators to believe the shooting is related to terrorism. Federal investigators also did not provide any information about the “potential second related person of interest at large in the community” or why they believe that is the case.

Officials were still working to process the crime scene, Greeves said.

The FBI’s field office in Houston has taken the lead on the investigation and neither investigators nor the Navy provided details on the shooter or a possible motive.

Atty. Gen. William Barr was briefed on the shooting, a Justice Department spokeswoman said.

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One person was in critical condition and two others were injured in a shooting Wednesday near a popular shopping and entertainment district west of Phoenix, police said.

The facility was on lockdown for about five hours Thursday morning, but that was lifted shortly before noon. The station’s main gate was reopened to traffic, but the gate where the attack happened remained closed.

The station had a similar lockdown in December. In another incident at the base last year, a man pleaded guilty to destruction of U.S. government property and possession of a stolen firearm for ramming his truck into a barricade at the Corpus Christi station.

The shooting also comes months after a Saudi air force officer who was training at a Navy base in Pensacola, Fla., killed three U.S. sailors and wounded eight other people in a shooting that American officials described as an act of terrorism. The country’s top federal law enforcement officials said this week that the gunman in December’s attack, Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, had been in touch with Al Qaeda operatives about planning and tactics in the months before the shooting. Alshamrani was killed by a sheriff’s deputy.

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