Canadian Security Magazine

U.S. capital in crosshairs of latest mass shooting, this one at Navy complex

By The Canadian Press   

News Public Sector

WASHINGTON — The U.S. capital was the latest American city to confront sickly familiar scenes of chaos and carnage on Monday when a gunman opened fire at the city's Navy Yard, killing at least six people at the largest of the U.S. Navy's five system commands.

While one gunman was shot dead, D.C.’s police chief, Kathy Lanier, said there were two other potential gunmen at large, both armed men dressed in military garb. They were being sought by police.

“The big concern for us right now is that we potentially have two other shooters we have not located,” she said at a noon-time news conference from the scene. “In terms of the investigation, it is still very active.”

That news raised the possibility of an orchestrated attack on a U.S. military institution, one located just a few blocks from Capitol Hill.

In remarks from the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama pointed out the regularity with which such shootings afflict the nation. The president tried unsuccessfully to push tougher gun control laws through Congress earlier this year following the horrific shooting in small-town Connecticut in December.


“We are confronting yet another mass shooting, and today it happened at a military installation in our nation’s capital,” he said. “We will do everything in our power to make sure whoever carried out this cowardly act is held responsible.”

The shootings prompted the temporary lockdown of D.C.’s Ronald Reagan National Airport and schools surrounding the Navy Yard, a historic complex in the city’s southeast that dates back to the 18th century and is now the workplace for about 3,000 people.

Offiicals said six people were killed and several injured.

The dead shooter, described as a former Navy official in his 50s whose employment status had recently changed, reportedly entered headquarters at the Navy Yard complex, fatally shot a security guard and was targeting specific people during his subsequent shooting rampage.

His name wasn’t immediately released.

Eyewitnesses said the gunman situated himself at a fourth floor overlook and was shooting down at people at the cafeteria on the first floor, creating panic and terror as people tried to flee the area.

“I heard three shots — pow, pow, pow. Thirty seconds later I heard four more shots,” said Patricia Ward, a logistics management specialist  who was in the cafeteria at the time. “A lot of people were just panicking. There were no screams or anything because we were in shock.”

At the White House, Obama was getting regular briefings from a homeland security and counterterrorism official. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was also receiving updates at the Pentagon.

“All regional military facilities are taking prudent steps,” said Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren.

Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, the chief of Naval Operations, was evacuated from his residence at the Navy Yard complex shortly after the first report of shots fired, said Navy officials. Greenert, a four-star admiral and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was safely evacuated to the Pentagon along with his wife.

— Lee-Anne Goodman

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