July 23, 2014

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Police: 13 killed in Washington Navy Yard shooting

A U.S. Park Police helicopter removes a man in a basket from the Washington Navy Yard Monday. Earlier in the day, the U.S. Navy said it was searching for an active shooter at the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters, where about 3,000 people work. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A U.S. Park Police helicopter removes a man in a basket from the Washington Navy Yard Monday. Earlier in the day, the U.S. Navy said it was searching for an active shooter at the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters, where about 3,000 people work. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON — Gunfire rained through the Navy’s oldest buildings, attacking office workers at a heavily guarded military facility in the heart of the nation’s capital.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said during a news conference Monday that 13 people were confirmed dead.

“This is a horrific tragedy,” Mayor Vincent Gray said.

Investigators said the motive was a mystery. The mayor said there was no indication it was a terrorist attack, but he added that the possibility had not been ruled out.

For much of the day, authorities said they were looking for a possible second attacker who may have been disguised in an olive-drab military-style uniform. But by late Monday night, they said they were convinced the attack was the work of a lone gunman, and the security lockdown around the area was eased. UPDATE: One of the suspected gunmen has been identified.

“We do now feel comfortable that we have the single and sole person responsible for the loss of life inside the base today,” Lanier said.

Alexis had been a full-time Navy reservist from 2007 to early 2011, leaving as a petty officer third class, the Navy said. It did not say why he left. He had been an aviation electrician’s mate with a unit in Fort Worth, Texas.

A convert to Buddhism who grew up in New York City, Alexis had had run-ins with the law over shooting incidents in 2004 and 2010 in Fort Worth and Seattle and was portrayed in police reports as seething with anger.

It was the deadliest shooting at a military installation in the U.S. since Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 in 2009 at Fort Hood in Texas. He was convicted last month and sentenced to death.

One of the gunmen was dead, and police were searching for two other men believed to have joined in the attack at the Washington Navy Yard. The suspects were reportedly dressed in military-style clothing, including one who had on a beret.

Lanier says people are being told to stay in their homes and out of the area as authorities search for the suspects. One of the shooters has died.

The attack unfolded just a short distance from the White House and the U.S. Capitol at a former shipyard that is one of the Navy’s oldest shore facilities.

The building that was targeted was the military’s headquarters for Naval Sea Systems Command, which buys, builds and maintains ships, submarines and combat systems. About 3,000 people work at the headquarters, many of them civilians.

Witnesses described a gunman opening fire from a fourth-floor overlook, aiming down on people in the first-floor cafeteria. Others said a gunman fired at them in a third-floor hallway.

It was not clear whether the witnesses on different floors were describing the same gunman.

As emergency vehicles and law enforcement officers flooded streets around the complex, a helicopter hovered overhead, nearby schools were locked down and airplanes at nearby Reagan National Airport were briefly grounded so they would not interfere with law-enforcement choppers. Less than 2 miles away, security was beefed up at the Capitol and other federal buildings, but officials said there was no known threat.

President Barack Obama mourned yet another mass shooting in the U.S. that he said took the lives of American patriots. Obama promised to make sure “whoever carried out this cowardly act is held responsible.”

Todd Brundidge, an executive assistant with Navy Sea Systems Command, said he and other co-workers encountered a gunman in a long hallway on the third floor. The gunman was wearing all blue, he said.

“He just turned and started firing,” Brundidge said.

Terrie Durham, an executive assistant with the same agency, said she also saw the gunman firing toward her and Brundidge.

“He aimed high and missed,” she said. “He said nothing. As soon as I realized he was shooting, we just said, ‘Get out of the building.’”

Rick Mason, a civilian program-management analyst for the Navy, said a gunman was shooting from the overlook in the hallway outside his office.

Shortly after the gunfire, Mason said, someone on an overhead speaker told workers to seek shelter and later to head for the gates at the complex.

Patricia Ward, a logistics-management specialist, said she was in the cafeteria getting breakfast.

“It was three gunshots straight in a row — pop, pop, pop. Three seconds later, it was pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, so it was like about a total of seven gunshots, and we just started running,” Ward told reporters several blocks away from the Navy Yard.

Ward said security officers started directing people out of the building with guns drawn.

One person died at George Washington University Hospital of a single gunshot wound to the left temple, said Dr. Babak Sarani, director of trauma and acute care surgery. A police officer and two civilian women were in critical condition at Washington Hospital Center, said Janis Orlowski, the hospital’s chief operating officer.

Orlowski said the police officer was in the operating room with gunshot wounds to the legs. One woman had a gunshot wound to the shoulder. The other had gunshot wounds to the head and hand.

Naval Sea Systems Command is the largest of the Navy’s five system commands and accounts for a quarter of the Navy’s entire budget. Only security personnel were allowed to be armed on the campus.

The Navy Yard has three gates, according to its website. One is open around the clock and must be used by visitors. A second gate is only for military and civilian Defense Department employees. The other gate is for bus traffic.

The Navy Yard is part of a fast-growing neighborhood on the banks of the Anacostia River in southeast Washington, just blocks from the Nationals Park baseball stadium.

  • Smira29595

    But Naval yard is a Victim Zone ummm I mean Gun FREE ZONE.

    • Zen Grouch

      Shame really…

      If good citizens like you with their pistols, were to try and take down people aimed with rifles, it would distract them long enough for the unarmed folks to skedaddle on out of there.

      And best of all YOU could die a hero!

      • Smira29595

        FOAD

        • Zen Grouch

          Well now!

          That’s not very ladylike!

          • Smira29595

            you wished me dead

          • Zen Grouch

            With the erroneous conclusions you jump to here, I have no doubt you feel a serious need to carry a gun.

          • Smira29595

            Zen Grouch Smira29595
            Shame really…If good citizens like you with their pistols, were to try and take down people aimed with rifles, it would distract them long enough for the unarmed folks to skedaddle on out of there.

            And best of all YOU could die a hero!

            How is that errronous????

          • Zen Grouch

            You said -I- wished you dead.

            You’re the one who appears to have a death wish, fighting crime hand in hand with your husband…

            Me… I don’t care one way or the other how you die.

      • Smira29595

        Tell me what law would have stopped this????? He broke at least 5 laws from the news I have heard in the last 5 minutes. You keep trying to legislate mad men

        • Zen Grouch

          The guy had problems in the military, illegally discharged guns at least twice, he has been recently treated for what appears to be paranoid schizophrenia…

          Yet until he was killed, he could legally purchase all the hand guns and shotguns his little heart desired.

          Seriously, what do you people have against background checks, or some kind of permit to purchase guns?

          • Smira29595

            It was illegal for him to take them on the base. Gun free zone………..

          • Zen Grouch

            So what?

            It was illegal for him to commit 12 counts of murder too.

            But what’s that got to do with crazies like this being subjected to background checks to get their hands on guns they break the laws with?

            You really seem to be sidestepping my question (with a typical dose of right wing smoke ‘n mirrors) of why it is you and yours are against background checks.

          • Smira29595

            who s aid I was against Background checks every weapon I own I went through one.

          • Zen Grouch

            There’s a huge difference in a thorough background check and the joke of a check it takes to buy a gun.

            I went through a grueling check once where there was a list of about 10 questions, with yes and no check boxes for each question.

            The guy who handed me the paper said, “I can’t sell you a gun if you put a check in any of the boxes on the right, OK?”

            I doubt the checks are much more different.

      • Smira29595

        And it shows what you know I carry hoping I will never need it. Pray for peace prepare for war. And just who should be able to carry????

        • Zen Grouch

          You hope to never need to use your weapon…

          …sorry, not buying that one.

  • Phil Blank

    Not so fast!

    Washington Post 8 minutes ago:
    “Police say as many as 3 shooters have killed at least 4, injured 8 on grounds of Washington Navy Yard”

    • Mark

      fog of war (no pun intended)… the events, numbers wounded/killed, how many gunmen… it’ll keep changing for hours.

  • Mark

    very sad. Maybe if there were CCW allowed on federal installations there’d be less of hasan and this stuff going on, because cowards chicken out when they might get shot back at.

    And “Obama promised to make sure “whoever carried out this cowardly act is held responsible.””…. must be a democrat canned phrase. Clinton used it all the time, and NEVER took any action.

    • Joe Smith

      Just like he held those people responsible for Benghazi