Cameron Walters of Richmond Hill was so proud when he finished basic training this year. A 21-year-old airmen apprentice, the Effingham County High School graduate loved what he was doing, made a lot of friends among his fellow sailors and wanted to become an engineer in the military.
His younger brother, Mason, 17, remembers him that way, adding his smile could light up a room.
“He was my best friend,” Mason said. “He was always there for me whenever I needed him. Anybody who needed him – he was always there.”
Cameron Walters was one of three sailors killed Friday in a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. The Navy identified the other two as Ensign Joshua Watson, 23, of Coffee County, Alabama, and Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, 19, of St. Petersburg, Florida. All three were students at Naval Aviation Schools Command. Eight others were injured.
Authorities identified the shooter as 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21, of the Royal Saudi Air Force, and said he was studying at the same institution in Pensacola. Alshamrani was fatally shot at the scene.
At a news conference Sunday, the FBI said it is presuming the attack was an act of terrorism, adding that presumption allows it to more quickly identify and eliminate any other potential threats to the community, though no credible threats have been found.
“Our main goal right now is to confirm whether he acted alone or was he a part of a larger network,” said Rachel Rojas, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville, Florida, field office. “We currently assess there was one gunman who perpetrated this attack, and no arrests have been made in this case.”
Capt. Tim Kinsella, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Pensacola, issued a statement, saying the U.S. sailors who were killed “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,” he said. “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.”
Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter said his city, which is about 20 miles southwest of Savannah, is preparing to “mourn a lost sailor, a member of our community.”
“The City of Richmond Hill feels the loss profoundly of these three sailors and grieves with the family and friends of the deceased,” the city said in a statement on its Facebook page. “We ask our community to come together for Cameron’s family, to mourn and remember him, and to pay tribute to his sacrifice. We will forever be grateful for his courage and heroism.”
Mason said he stayed in touch with his older brother through FaceTime while Cameron was away serving in the military.
“He had so many great stories to tell,” Mason said. “Whenever he was FaceTiming me from inside of his room with all of his buddies he was having so much fun … and they were all such good friends. And they all seemed so close with each other.”
Mason added: “He served this country honorably and he deserves all of the respect that he can get.”
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