“The big concern for us right now is that we have potentially two other shooters that we have not located at this point,” Lanier said.
The Mayor, Vincent C. Gray, said the motive is unknown at this time. Although a prime motive in this situation would be thought to be terrorism, he said there wasn’t any reason to believe it was – but he couldn’t rule it out.
Of course, many mainstream media outlets got egg on their face – again – when they “identified” the wrong suspect, as they did with the Boston Marathon bombing. It’s just so hard to tell at this point whether the truth was never told at all, or whether the truth was told, then quickly “retracted” to cover up government involvement:
CBS and NBC reported what they said was the name of the suspect in today’s D.C. shooting. But very quickly they basically said, “Never mind.”
At 12:58 p.m ET, Charlie Kaye of CBS took to Twitter to tweet, “BREAKING. @johnmillercbs advises the initial reports identifying the suspected shooter as Rollie Chance are wrong.”
Seven minutes later, NBC’s chief White House correspondent, tweeted, “NBC News: we are now NOT reporting name of shooter; retracting that report. deleting those tweets.”
One of the possible suspects is described as a white male in his 40s, wearing what looked like tan military clothing, “consistent with a Navy uniform,” and a beret. Police are also looking for a black man in his 40’s with gray sideburns, wearing an olive uniform.
“We have multiple pieces of information that would suggest” that the two suspects are armed. “We have reason to believe that they are involved in some way.”
Anyone with any information on these individuals is encouraged to call the police at 202-727-9099.
The Boston Herald secured a brief interview with John Pike, a “leading authority on the military and homeland security”, who formerly lived next door to the Navy yard and said he’s been on the military base several times.
“It’s secure, but not heavily secure,” said Pike, who recalled as many as three separate gates one could enter — all guarded, though he did not remember there being metal detectors to pass through.
“It’s a big place,” Pike said. “They have divided it up into one section that is still the Navy and another that is a military office park. The chief of Naval Operations lives there. The Navy Historical Center is there. There’s an intelligence-related building. Marine Corps barracks are across the street. If one were looking for large numbers to massacre, there would be no shortage of them.”
The property is also full of civilian workers, he said, whose jobs are mostly office tasks.
Still, he said, “You cannot come and go as you please. You have to have some documentation to get on site.”
Military uniforms would the least problematic to lay hands on. “It’s a commercial item,” said Pike. “Plus, this is a military town. There’s no shortage of them.”
What struck him as odd about the attack was the targeted location, itself: the Navy Sea Systems Command Headquarters. It is situated deep within the complex and someone would have to pass several other buildings to get to it. But it only has one purpose: The building of ships.
“It’s not a significant target,” Pike said. “I’m at a loss to identify political agenda here, but that doesn’t mean a crazy person wouldn’t see one.”
The “main shooter” (as always) is among the 12 dead. He had an assault rifle and a handgun. One of the officials said he also had a shotgun. Kind of hard to carry an assault rifle and a shotgun at the same time, isn’t it?
Authorities identified the dead shooter as a Navy employee whose work status had been changed earlier this year, said a federal government official who spoke only on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak on the record. While that may suggest the motive was job related, authorities haven’t ruled out anything including terrorism, the official said.
He has been identified as a 34-year-old man from Fort Worth, TX who was working as a government civilian contractor at the site and is new to the DC area.
Police are working under the theory that there may be more than one shooter because of witness accounts, surveillance videos, and “other information”. One of them also said that all the weapons involved had not been accounted for.
At least two police officers were shot, as well. One is a D.C. Metro Police officer who was shot twice in the leg and was evacuated to the hospital, where he is now in stable condition. The other was a base officer, who was conscious at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and his chances for survival look good, according to hospital officials.
Janis Orlowski, the chief medical officer at Washington Hospital Center, said three victims total were brought to the center, all in critical condition but all alert, responsive and able to talk with the doctors treating them. The victims were also able to speak briefly to law enforcement officers before going into surgery or otherwise being sedated.
The Canadian embassy in Washington is reassuring their populace that although two Canadians were working at the Navy Yard, they were not working today and thus, escaped the carnage without so much as a scratch…Wow, good to know.
“Both are accounted for and safe and were not at the navy yard this morning,” Alex Vaschon White said.
The other two victims at that particular hospital were female civilians, but all are likely to survive.
Ten public and charter schools and a public school administration building in the District were placed on lockdown as a precaution, and flights out of Reagan National Airport were briefly halted, causing delays even after they began departing again.
The chief of Naval Operations, four-star admiral, and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert (along with his wife, Darleen) was evacuated to the Pentagon from his residence at the Navy Yard complex shortly after the first report of shots fired came in, Navy officials said.
Three shots were fired around 8:20 a.m. at Building 197, where an estimated 3,000 people work every day. The building, according to Canadian news sources, is a “high-security naval sea system command center building, where civilians and military personnel work on design, engineering and technology of U.S. naval ships”. They also ask the two-trillion-dollar question:
A key question in all of this is how the shooters gained access.
Rick Mason, a civilian working with the U.S. Navy, told the AP that a gunman was shooting from a 4th floor overlook in the hallway outside his office. He was aiming at people in the cafeteria, on the first floor.
Tim Jirus, a Navy commander who works in the same Building, said he saw a wounded co-worker getting into a police car and heard more shots being fired from inside as he was evacuating. It got worse, though. He dove into an alley (where he thought he’d be safer) and talked briefly with a man about what was going on. Just seconds later, he heard two gunshots echoing off the building. When he turned back, the man he had just been talking to was shot in the head. He didn’t know where the shooter was at that point, so he ran.
“I was just lucky,” he said. “The other person was shorter than me. There were two shots, he got that guy, he didn’t get me. . . .The randomness of it — standing right next to me, one person gets shot.”
David Stevens, a Navy contractor, was on the phone talking in 197 when he heard an initial round of shots fired. He heard people shouting that a shooter was on the fourth floor. He ran to the edge of a glass atrium that overlooks all the floors and glanced up, only to hear a “second deluge” of gunshots. The fire alarm began to sound, and people started exiting the building. He described the building as “very secure”, and insisted that employees must present an ID at all entrances and that visitors must have security clearance to even get in.
“It’s unbelievable that someone could get a rifle in there — if that’s what the shooter had,” he said.
Two of the employees at the Navy Yard who were interviewed on CNN said they were fired upon in a hallway by the gunman, who they described as a “tall black man”. A woman named Terry Durham said that as she and her co-workers were evacuating the building, she saw a man down the hall raise a rifle and fire at them, hitting the wall.
“He was tall. He appeared to be dark-skinned,” she said.
“He was a tall black guy,” said her co-worker, Todd Brundage. “He didn’t say a word.”
One man was at his desk on the second floor when the shooting began. He remembered hearing a loud noise, “like someone dropping an old metal desk.”
The man, who declined to give his name, said there was a pause, then several noises close together and he realized the danger: “There’s a shooter in the building. I started walking toward the door and I heard people running down the hall.”
Chaos ensued, as a fire alarm sounded and people shouted, “Where is he? Where is he?”
Other witnesses described a scene of pandemonium as naval personnel panicked and rushed to exit the building. Some people fell while others stepped over them. Many tried to climb security fences.
The 11th Street Bridge was closed by police, as was M Street SE between 2nd and 4th streets SE due to the shooting. Entrances to the Navy Yard Metro station are still open, however. U.S. Capitol Police confirmed enhanced security at the Capitol, but no immediate threat was mentioned.
While helicopters circled overhead and emergency response vehicles continued to pour into the scene of the gruesome crime, crowds of onlookers gathered on sidewalks and at a nearby construction site, but police pushed them back and yelled at them to keep a distance from the grounds.
President Obama, of course, “expressed sympathy” for the victims and said “justice must be sought”:
“I’ve made it clear to my team that we want the investigation to be seamless, so that local and federal authorities are working together,” he said.
This happened just moments before President Obama was due to make a speech about the state of the economy. Lucky break, I suppose.
“Some people have been shot and some people have been killed and so we are confronting yet another mass shooting and today it happened on a military installation in our nation’s capital,” he said before delivering a scheduled speech on the state of the economy. “It’s a shooting that targeted our military and civilian personnel.”
He added that the victims know the dangers of serving abroad, “but today they faced the unimaginable violence that they wouldn’t have expected here at home.”
“We will do everything in our power to make sure that whoever carried out this cowardly act is held responsible,” he said.