Saudi Arabian workers who have been learning English in Ottumwa are leaving town after being beaten and fired upon, officials say.
"Less than a dozen people were able to remove about $2 million in income to Ottumwa," said Mayor Jerry Parker, adding, "We've got to remove the black eye we've got."
"The final straw was the shooting" last week, said Lyle Hellyer, president of Indian Hills Community College, where the 149 students were learning language skills. He added that the Saudis "are extremely upset and fearful for the safety of their people and I can't blame them for that."
The students work for two Saudi companies, which contracted with Northrop Technical Institute of Hawthorne, Calif., to teach the students how to speak English. They have been in Ottumwa, a city of some 27,000 people, for more than a year.
Maria Oharenko, a spokesman for Northrop, said the students would leave "because their safety could no longer be guaranteed." It was not known where the students would go or when.
On Aug. 29, several Saudis were beaten with clubs, and one of the students had to be hospitalized. On Thursday, someone shot at two Saudis as they were riding in their car, missing them. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are investigating.