Reporting Alex DeMetrick
WASHINGTON (WJZ/AP) –A former Navy man launched an attack Monday morning inside a building at the Washington Navy Yard, spraying gunfire on office workers in the cafeteria and in the hallway at the heavily secured installation, authorities said. Thirteen people were killed, including the gunman. The vice admiral says the 12 people killed by the gunman were all civilians. Fourteen people were wounded.
Those killed in the shooting have been identified as 59-year-old Michael Arnold, 53-year-old Sylvia Frasier, 62-year-old Kathy Gaarde, 71-year-old John Roger Johnson, 50-year-old Frank Kohler, 46-year-old Kenneth Bernard Proctor and 61-year-old Vishnu Pandit. The other victims’ identities have not yet been released.
Navy officials say that they are working with the FBI to determine when the facility will reopen and they thank the community for their support. They say that people who need counseling services should call 1-800-222-0364. There is no estimate for when the reopening will happen.
The shelter in place order was finally lifted shortly before 10:30 p.m. Monday. The FBI says that many people have been cleared from the Navy Yard. It took so long because everyone needed to be interviewed. FBI officials say that it may take them up to 48 hours to process the scene. They are also searching a car in the Navy Yard.
Alex DeMetrick spoke to witnesses.
That shooter who died has been identified as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis. He died after a running gun battle with police, investigators said.
Alexis had been arrested in Seattle in 2004 for shooting out the tires of a parked car in what he described as an anger-fueled “blackout.”
Two construction workers told police that he walked out of a home next door on May 6, 2004, pulled a pistol from his waistband and fired three shots into the rear tires of their parked car. Alexis later told police he thought the victims had “disrespected him.”
Court records show he was released on the condition he not have contact with any of the construction workers.
Seattle police said in a statement Monday that detectives later spoke with Alexis’ father, who told police Alexis had anger management problems associated with PTSD, and had participated in rescue attempts on Sept. 11th, 2001.
A federal law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity said Alexis was believed to have gotten into the Navy Yard by using someone else’s identification card.
It was not clear if that person was an accomplice or if the ID was stolen, authorities said.
The Navy said in a release Monday that Alexis left the Navy on Jan. 31, 2011, as a petty officer 3rd class. It’s not immediately clear why he left.
Alexis had been working for the fleet logistics support squadron No. 46, in Fort Worth, Texas. The Navy says his home of record was New York City.
The FBI has taken over the investigation and is seeking the public’s help to provide any information regarding Alexis.
Those with information on the deceased suspect are asked to contact the FBI’s Washington, D.C. Field Office at 202/278-2000 or 1-800-CALL-FBI. Click here for a detailed description of the suspect.
Authorities initially said they were looking for two additional suspects who were wearing military-style uniforms, including one who had on a beret.
D.C. Police say one of those men — a man seen at the Navy Yard in a tan outfit — now has been identified. He is no longer a suspect or person of interest. Shortly after 10:30 p.m. officials said they are confident that Alexis acted alone.
The shooting started Monday around 8:20 a.m. in the Southeast area of Washington, D.C..
The response was immense. Within seven minutes from the first call for help, police, fire and air units converged on the Navy Yard.
Shortly after the gunfire, Rick Mason, a program management analyst who is a civilian with the U.S. Navy, said overhead speakers told workers to seek shelter and later to head for the gates at the complex.
“I just heard gunshots. I was in the cafeteria. The gunshots I believe was taking place on the fourth floor. The ones that were in the cafeteria, we just looked at each other and we panicked. We just ran out, just ran as fast as we could,” said Patricia Ward, a logistics management specialist,
Ward said security officers started directing people out of the building with guns drawn.
Others said a gunman fired at them in a third-floor hallway.
Todd Brundidge, an executive assistant with Navy Sea Systems Command, said he and other co-workers encountered a gunman in a long hallway of their building 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 Brundridge.
“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.”‘
Even after came that the shooter was dead, police had to run down reports that there might be two other gunmen on the base.
“He’s dead, but hopefully there’s not another one and then something else happens,” said Brandon Tobe, whose cousin was locked down. “Hopefully, this is the end.”
People with family members inside made contact with cell phones.
“She said she’s hungry. They’re just trying make sure that everything is secured before they let them all off base,” said Sgt. David Reyes, whose wife is locked down.
“I think they were all sweeping the area, makings sure everything is OK,” Tobe said.
Waiting left plenty of time to wonder what could have triggered such violence.
“A lot of people been so frustrated because of the furloughs and their jobs. I don’t know if all that played a big part,” Ward said.
“It’s just the world that we live in,” Sgt. Reyes said. “It’s sad. You just want to know why.”
Around 3 p.m., workers locked down all day began walking out of the Navy Yard, which is now transitioning from an active shooting scene to a recovery and crime scene.
President Barack Obama mourned what he called “yet another mass shooting” in the U.S. that he says took the life of American patriots. Obama promised to make sure “whoever carried out this cowardly act is held responsible.”
Police and federal agents from multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the scene. Ambulances were parked outside, streets in the area were closed and departures from Reagan National Airport were temporarily halted for security reasons. The airport is back to normal at this time.
District of Columbia schools officials said six schools and one administrative building in the vicinity of the Navy Yard were placed on lockdown. The action was taken out an abundance of caution, schools spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz said.
The Washington Nationals have canceled their Monday night game with the Atlanta Braves. It will be played at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.
A U.S. Park Police helicopter hovered over the building and appeared to drop a basket or a stretcher with a person onto the roof.
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. It builds, buys and maintains the Navy’s ships and submarines and their combat systems.
About 3,000 people work in the building.
The Navy Yard is part of a fast-growing neighborhood on the banks of the Anacostia River in southeast Washington, just blocks from Nationals Park and about 1 1/2 miles southeast of the U.S. Capitol.
Traffic in the area is being diverted away from the scene of the investigation.
Stay with CBSBaltimore.com for the latest on this developing story.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)