At least 12 killed in shooting rampage at Washington Navy Yard, chief says
A man brandishing an assault rifle, shotgun and handgun opened fire Monday inside a building at the Washington Navy Yard. The city police chief said 12 people were killed.
SWAT officers swarmed the building, the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command, and a shooter there was killed, sources told NBC News. Law enforcement officials identified the gunman to NBC News as Aaron Alexis, 34, originally of Fort Worth, Texas. They said he recently began working as a civilian contractor.
Chief Cathy Lanier said there could be as many as two other suspects at large, one white and one black, both seen with firearms and wearing military-style uniforms. But reports conflicted in the chaotic hours after the rampage, and there was no confirmation of more than one person firing shots.
It was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last December, and the worst at a military installation since 13 people were killed at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.
The number of injured was not clear.
President Barack Obama called it a “cowardly act.” He said the rampage targeted patriots, military and civilian alike, “men and women who were going to work, doing their job, protecting all of us.”
NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports on the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. and shares the latest information. NBC’s Kasie Hunt also joins the conversation.
Terrie Durham, who works at the Naval Sea Systems Command building, said she saw a gunman who appeared to be wearing dark fatigues. Another worker there, Todd Brundidge, said he heard a fire alarm go off, and later saw the gunman come around the corner.
“He turned our way and started firing, and we ran downstairs to get out of the building,” Brundidge said. “No words. He raised the gun and started firing.”
A naval security guard was among those shot and was hit in both legs, U.S. military officials said. Washington city police told WRC, the NBC affiliate in Washington, that one of their officers was also among those shot. It was not clear how many of the others shot were civilian and how many were military.
Patricia Ward, who works at the Navy Yard, said she had just gotten breakfast in the cafeteria when she heard “three gunshots, pow-pow-pow, straight in a row.”
“All of the people that were in the cafeteria, we all panicked, and we were trying to decide which way we were going to run out,” she said. “I just ran.”
Tim Hogan, a spokesman for Rep. Steven Horsford of Nevada, posted photos to his Twitter account of people tending to at least one person down on a street corner.
Chaos enveloped the surrounding neighborhood for hours. Flights were briefly grounded at Reagan National Airport, and nearby schools and the headquarters of the Department of Transportation were locked down. Farther away, police stepped up security on the Capitol grounds.
Washington police issued lookouts for two people they described as suspects — a 50-year-old black man with a rifle, wearing an olive drab military uniform, and a white man with a pistol, wearing a short-sleeved, khaki uniform and a beret.