A Metropolitan Police Department officer walks near the Washington Navy Yard after at least one gunman launched an attack inside the Washington Navy Yard, spraying gunfire on office workers in the cafeteria and in the hallways at the heavily secured military installation in the heart of the nation's capital, in Washington, on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013.
At least 13 people were killed at a shooting on the grounds of the Washington Navy Yard Monday morning, in what has become the single biggest mass casualty event in the city since 1982.
One shooter, identified as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis of Ft. Worth, Tex., was killed after multiple engagements with police. Officials say Alexis began his attack with a shotgun, but was also found with a 9mm pistol and an AR-15 assault rifle.
As many as 14 others were wounded in the incident, according to the latest Navy reports, making 27 casualties in all.
At a 6:15 p.m. press conference, police say they remain on the lookout for a second potential shooter, described as a black male with gray sideburns, age 40-50, wearing an olive-colored uniform. A third potential shooter was identified and cleared earlier in the afternoon.
According to the U.S. Navy, Alexis, who hailed from New York, enlisted on May 5, 2007, reaching the rank of Aviation Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class in 2009. He received both the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. The Ft. Worth Police Department arrested Alexis in September 2010 for improperly discharging his weapon into a neighbor's ceiling. (The incident report.) He was also apparently involved in another gun-related incident in Seattle in 2004.
D.C. officials said that the investigation into the shooting was ongoing, and said that terrorism wasn't yet suspected as a motive.
"We don't know what the motive is at this stage... we don't have any reason to suspect terrorism," said Mayor Vince Gray.
Gray said that over a dozen people were injured during the morning's incident. Police are continuing a search of the Navy Yard facility, and the Navy has asked all local offices to account for its staff. And while city officials reopened I-295, 395 and 695, they urged people to stay away from the area around the Navy Yard.
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The FBI is asking for anyone with information on Aaron Alexis to call 1-800-CALL-FBI
Shots were first reported at 8:20 a.m. at Building 197 the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters, where 3,000 employees work. According to what one witness told WAMU 88.5's Patrick Madden, the shooter stood on a fourth-floor landing and aimed and shot at people in a first floor atrium.
"I just heard the shooting happening on my floor, which is where the shooter was," said Rick Mason, who was in the building at the time of the shooting.
"I just assumed it was just people working in the building, but the noises were repeating itself, like four or five shots. Then one of the managers came out and said, ‘Everybody out of the building. Leave building because there’s shooting happening.’ We left out through the emergency exit, and was told to meet… in a location with employees for accountability. Then the announcer came out over the loud speaker on the base to say to seek shelter," he said.
Police and emergency responders from around the region descended on the scene, engaging Alexis on multiple occasions. One shooting victim was removed from the roof of a building by a helicopter; three victims were taken to the Washington Hospital Center, others to the George Washington University Hospital.
One of the victims, an MPD officer, was shot in the leg. According to Dr. Jane Orlowski, the officer is still in critical condition. She said it was a "complex operation" to fix his leg, but he is expected to recover.
Two other female victims at the Washington Hospital Center are being treated for wounds. One woman was wounded in the shoulder, but it did not require surgery. The other was shot through the hand as she tried to protect her head from gunfire. Orlowski said the bullet did not penetrate her skull, and she too would recover.
All three victims at Washington Hospital Center were alert and able to talk to authorities. Based on the nature and pattern of the bullet wounds, they were believed to be caused by a semi-automatic weapon.
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At a 12:15 p.m. press conference, Mayor Vince Gray called the shootings a "horrific tragedy" but said that it was an "isolated incident." Speaking at 12:30 p.m., President Obama called the shooting a "cowardly act" and expressed his hope for a "seamless investigation."
"They know the dangers of serving abroad," he said about the workers at the Navy Yard. "Today they faced unimaginable violence that they wouldn't have expected here at home."
Obama ordered that flags be lowered to half-staff until Sept. 20.
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton compared the shooting to the September 11 attacks. "It is an attack not just on our facilities, it is an attack on our city, it is an attack on our country."
The Washington Navy Yard will be closed Sept. 17 to all except emergency responders and essential personnel.
The FBI is leading the investigation, and police have asked that anyone with any information call 1-800-CALL-FBI.