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The Edge of Violence

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At Least 12 Killed in Shooting at Washington Navy Headquarters

September 16th 2013

FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force

At least twelve people, including a gunman, were killed in shootings on Monday in and around the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters in Washington, D.C., according to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. Gray said at a news conference Monday afternoon that there was no known motive for the rampage, but authorities do not have any reason to think that it was a terrorist event.

Washington Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier initially said there could be two shooters still at large. “We potentially have two other shooters that we have not located at this point,” she said, adding that “this is not confirmed.”

Lanier described two men who were wanted for questioning, one a white male between 40 and 50 years old, wearing a tan naval uniform, and one a black male of about 50 years of age, wearing an olive-colored military uniform. The second suspect is approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 180 pounds, she said.

Washington police later said one of the persons of interest - the white male in military fatigues - had been identified and has been ruled out as a suspect. Lanier said residents are still advised to stay out of the area and in their homes during the search for the two additional shooters. The FBI was taking the lead role in the investigation, Lanier added.

Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer said Monday afternoon that the Senate complex would be locked down for two hours in "light of the uncertainty surrounding the shooting at the Navy Yard this morning and particularly the possibility of suspects remaining at large."

The shootings quickly turned the area around the Navy Yards, blocks from Capitol Hill, into chaos, with some buildings locked down, attack helicopters circling the area and emergency and police vehicles racing to the scene. Multiple reports said a gunman involved in the shootings was killed in a firefight with police after being cornered in the building where the shootings occurred.

There were conflicting reports about whether another gunman might have been involved in the shooting, which was initially reported at 8:20 a.m. at Building No. 197 of the Navy Yard, where about 3,000 people work.

The Washington Post initially reported that a D.C. police source who requested anonymity said there were three shooters and that only one had been cornered by police. That story has since been updated to say that there were only two shooters, which the NBC affiliate in Washington also reported.

Most other news organizations were reporting that only one shooter was involved. Rumors about a related shooting at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling also proved to be unfounded

NBC said the Navy Yard gunman was armed with a “long gun,” possibly an AR-15, and a smaller firearm.
At a press conference, a surgeon at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where two civilian victims and one police officer were transported, said the gunman appeared to use a semi-automatic weapon.

“I would tell you from the reports of the victims, it would have to be a semi-automatic, because they’re talking about gun shots they heard in rapid succession,” she said. Lanier said one D.C. police officer was injured in an "engagement" with the gunman and is in stable condition. Other officers were injured in the response, she said.

Navy spokesman Ed Buclatin tweeted early Monday morning, "4 killed and 8 injured. One shooter down." The Navy ordered a “shelter in place” directive after the shootings. The U.S. Capitol Police said it’s offering support and assistance to the Metropolitan Police Department in handling the situation. Several helicopters, including one from U.S Park Police airlifting the victims, were circling the Navy Yard at 11:15 a.m., while D.C. police closed M Street Southeast from New Jersey Avenue Southeast to Sixth Street Southeast.

Flights at Ronald Reagan National airport also were grounded due to security concerns, according to multiple media reports, but normal activity has since resumed. Gray said he was “continuously involved with the White House” on the matter.

At a press conference on Monday, President Obama said he’d been briefed by his team about the situation.
”We are confronting yet another mass shooting and today it happened at a military installation in our nation’s capital,” the president said, calling the victims “patriots.”

“They knew the dangers of serving abroad, but today they faced violence that they wouldn’t have expected at home.” Obama promised a "seamless investigation" between local and federal authorities to bring those responsible for the "cowardly attack" to justice.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is also receiving regular updates on the situation. "The situation remains fluid" as the Defense Department continues to "engage closely" with local and federal law enforcement on the scene, department spokesman George Little said.

The Pentagon is taking "appropriate action" to increase security measures at other military facilities in the region, he added. "All U.S. military facilities are taking prudent steps" in response to the Navy Yard incident, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren added.

Navy Cmdr. Tim Jirus said he was speaking with a man in the alley behind Building No. 197 on Monday when two shots rang out. The other man was shot in the head, Jirus said.

"I feel very lucky to be standing here talking to you as opposed to somewhere else," he told reporters.
Patricia Ward, a civilian on the base, said she was in the building's cafeteria when she heard seven gunshots.

The gunshots rang out at about 8:20 a.m., she said. "There were three gunshots, straight in a row: pop, pop, pop," Ward said. A few seconds later, another series of shots rang out. A security guard told workers to get out. "She told us all to just run. Get away as far as you can," Ward said.

Ward said the shots appeared to come from the fourth floor of the building, which could be seen in the building's open atrium. Ward also said personnel do not need to go through a metal detector to get to the building.

Navy Musician 1st Class Joe Friedman, who works at the Navy Yard, said he was shocked a shooter could penetrate the base's security. He never made it to the Navy Yard on Monday, stopped when he got off of a Metro subway train and told the base was closed.

"Our base is extremely secure," he said. "There's all kinds of security here. I've never once felt any kind of threat or insecurity." Employees were being let out of Building No. 197 at about 3 p.m. Monday.

John Norquist, a Navy civilian employee, said employees were moved to a nearby building and locked down there. The Navy says it has issued an "Order to Account" for all active duty and selected Reserve personnel assigned to commands in the D.C. metro area.

A spokesman said the Pentagon remains open, although security has been increased as a "proactive, precautionary measure." The U.S. Capitol Police said earlier Monday that officers would conduct enhanced security operations on the grounds of the Capitol but that there was no known threat to the complex.

Gray said no decision had been made regarding a scheduled Washington Nationals game Monday night at Nationals Park, near the Navy Yard. "We'll coordinate that with the Washington Nationals and we'll make the most responsible decision," he said at an afternoon press conference.

Jonathan Easley writes for The Hill, from where this article is adapted.


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