One of the three heroic sailors who died protecting others during a mass shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday morning had only recently rekindled his faith.
Anthony Snead, who coached Airman Mohammad Sameh Haitham, a 19-year-old from St. Petersburg, Florida, in track and cross-country at Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, told The Washington Post how Haitham, who graduated in 2018, recently rekindled his Christian faith and had been attending church with a classmate.
He explained how proud he was of Haitham who once told him that he was unsure what he wanted to do with his life, but he wanted it to be positive.
“He didn’t want to be somebody who was going to coast,” Snead said. “He wanted to be someone who was going to be a positive influence. And he worked like it.”
Haitham was the youngest of the three sailors who were fatally shot by a 21-year-old gunman, identified as Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani at Naval Air Station Pensacola. The navy identified the other fatalities as Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, of Coffee, Alabama, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, 21, of Richmond Hill, Georgia.
“The sorrow from the tragic event on NAS Pensacola will have a lasting impact on our installation and community,” Capt. Tim Kinsella, commanding officer at NAS Pensacola said in a statement Saturday. “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.”
Alshamrani, who was armed with a handgun, opened fire inside a classroom building killing the three sailors and injured eight others before he was killed by a sheriff’s deputy. The FBI is currently investigating the attack as an act of terrorism, The New York Times said.
Kimberly Walker, who said Haitham was her son’s best friend, told The Washington Post that his mother, who is also a Navy veteran, works for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
She said he had only been stationed in Pensacola for a few months and had recently completed basic training. Authorities, she said, told Haitham’s family that he had tried to stop the shooter.
“He was just so good that I knew the second [authorities] talked about a hero that he wouldn’t allow anybody else to take a bullet if he could get in the way of it,” Walker said.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair