Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard; 13 People Killed

Deadliest shooting at a U.S.-based military installation since 2009 at Fort Hood in Texas

 

 
 
 

BRETT ZONGKER, ERIC TUCKER and LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press | | Monday, September 16, 2013

GALLERIES

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Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

People inside Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters fired on.
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VIDEOS

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Navy Yard Shooting Victims at Washington’s MedStar Hospital

Washington Hospital Center received three victims from base shooting.
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Raw Video: Air Lift at Washington Navy Yard

Injured person hoisted from shooting scene.
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Hospital Official Discusses Washington Navy Yard Shooting Injuries

An official talked about the injuries some victims sustained.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The deadly attack at the Washington Navy Yard was carried out by one of the military's own: a defense contract employee and former Navy reservist who used a valid pass to get onto the installation and started firing inside a building, killing 12 people before he was slain in a gun battle with police.

The motive for the mass shooting — the deadliest on a military installation in the U.S. since the tragedy at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 — was a mystery, investigators said. But a profile of the lone gunman, a 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, was coming into focus. He was described as a Buddhist who had also had flares of rage, complained about the Navy and being a victim of discrimination and had several run-ins with law enforcement, including two shootings.

Monday's onslaught at a single building at the highly secure Navy Yard unfolded about 8:20 a.m. in the heart of the nation's capital, less than four miles from the White House and two miles from the Capitol.

It put all of Washington on edge. Mayor Vincent Gray said there was no indication it was a terrorist attack, but he added that the possibility had not been ruled out.

"This is a horrific tragedy," Gray said.

Alexis carried three weapons: an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun, and a handgun that he took from a police officer at the scene, according to two federal law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation. The AR-15 is the same type of rifle used in last year's mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that killed 20 students and six women. The weapon was also used in the shooting at a Colorado movie theater that killed 12 and wounded 70.

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 shooting was the work of a lone gunman, and the lockdown around the area was eased.

"We do now feel comfortable that we have the single and sole person responsible for the loss of life inside the base today," Washington police Chief Cathy Lanier said.

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

The FBI took charge of the investigation.

The attack came four years after Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 13 people at Fort Hood in what he said was an effort to save the lives of Muslims overseas. He was convicted last month and sentenced to death.

In addition to those killed at the Navy Yard, eight people were hurt, including three who were shot and wounded, according to the mayor. Those three were a police officer and two female civilians, authorities said. They were all expected to survive.

The dead ranged in age from 46 to 73, according to the mayor. A number of the victims were civilian employees and contractors, rather than active-duty military personnel, the police chief said.

At the time of the rampage, Alexis was an employee with The Experts, a company that was a Defense Department subcontractor on a Navy-Marine Corps computer project, authorities said.

Valerie Parlave, head of the FBI's field office in Washington, said Alexis had access to the Navy Yard as a defense contractor and used a valid pass.

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.

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.

The Washington Navy Yard is a sprawling, 41-acre labyrinth of buildings and streets protected by armed guards and metal detectors, and employees have to show their IDs at doors and gates. More than 18,000 people work there.

The rampage took place at Building 197, the headquarters for Naval Sea Systems Command, which buys, builds and maintains ships and submarines. About 3,000 people work at headquarters, many of them civilians.

Witnesses on Monday described a gunman opening fire from a fourth-floor overlook, aiming down on people on the main floor, which includes a glass-walled cafeteria. Others said a gunman fired at them in a third-floor hallway.

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 said.

Todd Brundidge, an executive assistant with Navy Sea Systems Command, said he and 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 the gunman fired 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.'"

Officials announced early Tuesday that streets around the Navy Yard that were closed after the shooting were re-opened for the morning commute.

As emergency vehicles and law enforcement officers flooded the streets Monday, a helicopter hovered, nearby schools were locked down and airplanes at Reagan National Airport were grounded so they would not interfere with law-enforcement choppers.

Security was tightened at other federal buildings. Senate officials shut down their side of the Capitol. The House remained open.

In the confusion, police said around midday that they were searching for two accomplices who may have taken part in the attack — one carrying a handgun and wearing a tan Navy-style uniform and a beret, the other armed with a long gun and wearing an olive-green uniform. Police said it was unclear if the men were members of the military.

But as the day wore, police dropped one person and then the other as suspects. As tensions eased, Navy Yard employees were gradually released from the complex, and children were let out of their locked-down schools.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, was at the base at the time the shooting began but was moved unharmed to a nearby military installation.

Anxious relatives and friends of those who work at the complex waited to hear from loved ones.

Tech Sgt. David Reyes, who works at Andrews Air Force Base, said he was waiting to pick up his wife, Dina, who was under lockdown in a building next to where the shooting happened. She sent him a text message.

"They are under lockdown because they just don't know," Reyes said. "They have to check every building in there, and they have to check every room and just, of course, a lot of rooms and a lot of buildings."

___

Associated Press writers Jesse Holland, Stacy A. Anderson, Brian Witte and Ben Nuckols in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Navy Yard Shooting Victims at Washington’s MedStar Hospital



Raw Video: Air Lift at Washington Navy Yard



Hospital Official Discusses Washington Navy Yard Shooting Injuries



Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

Police work the scene on M Street S.E. in Washington, where a gunman was reported in a military building at the Washington Navy Yard Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. Shots have been fired and employees directed to a shelter. Police and federal agents from multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the scene and streets in the area were closed. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

Police work the scene on M Street, SE in Washington near the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. The U.S. Navy says one person is injured after a shooting at a Navy building in Washington. Police and emergency crews gathered Monday morning outside the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters building, where the shooting was reported. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

Police work the scene on M Street, SE in Washington, where a gunman was reported at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. The U.S. Navy says one person is injured after a shooting at a Navy building in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

A U.S. Park Police helicopter removes a man in a basket from the Washington Navy Yard Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. 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. The exact number of people killed and the conditions of those wounded was not immediately known. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

A U.S. Park Police helicopter removes a man in a basket from the Washington Navy Yard Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. 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. The exact number of people killed and the conditions of those wounded was not immediately known. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

A U.S. Park Police helicopter removes a man in a basket from the Washington Navy Yard Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. 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. The exact number of people killed and the conditions of those wounded was not immediately known. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

This photo, which AP obtained from Don Andres and has been authenticated based on details in it, shows emergency personnel attending to a scene where a gunman was reported at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. At least one gunman opened fire inside a building at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday morning, and a Defense Department official said several people were killed and as many as 10 were wounded, including a law enforcement officer. (AP Photo/Don Andres)


Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

This photo, which AP obtained from Don Andres and has been authenticated based on details in it, shows emergency personnel attending to a scene where a gunman was reported at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. At least one gunman opened fire inside a building at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday morning, and a Defense Department official said several people were killed and as many as 10 were wounded, including a law enforcement officer. (AP Photo/Don Andres)


Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

Members of the military guard a military garage near the Washington Navy Yard where a gunman was reported in Washington, on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. The exact number of people killed and the conditions of those wounded was not immediately known. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

Police bring in equipment by an anchor outside of an entrance to the Washington Navy Yard where a gunman was reported in Washington, on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. The exact number of people killed and the conditions of those wounded was not immediately known. About 3,000 people work at the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

A helicopter that has been airlifting people from the top of a building at the Washington Navy Yard circles the area after a gunman was reported at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. The exact number of people killed and the conditions of those wounded was not immediately known. About 3,000 people work at the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

U.S. Capitol Police personnel keep watch on the East Plaza of the Capitol as the investigation continues to the shooting at the nearby Washington Navy Yard Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, in Washington. At least one gunman opened fire inside a building at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday morning, and officials said six people were killed and as many as 10 were wounded, including a law enforcement officer. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)


Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

Security personnel respond near the Washington Navy Yard where a gunman was reported in Washington, on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. At least one gunman opened fire inside a building at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday morning, and officials said six people were killed and as many as 10 were wounded, including a law enforcement officer. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)


Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

A police boat and helicopter patrol near the scene of a shooting at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, in Washington. At least one gunman opened fire inside a building at the Washington Navy Yard, and officials said six people were killed and as many as 10 were wounded, including a law enforcement officer. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)


Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

A police boat patrols near the scene of a shooting at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, in Washington. At least one gunman opened fire inside a building at the Washington Navy Yard, and officials said six people were killed and as many as 10 were wounded, including a law enforcement officer. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)


Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

U.S. Capitol Police personnel keep watch on the East Plaza of the Capitol as the investigation continues to the shooting at the nearby Washington Navy Yard Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, in Washington. At least one gunman opened fire inside a building at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday morning. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)


Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier briefs reporters on the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. Standing to the right of Lanier is District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray. At least one gunman opened fire inside a building at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday morning (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)


Gallery 1

Shooting at Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray briefs reporters on the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. At least one gunman opened fire inside a building at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday morning. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)



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