WASHINGTON -- A mass shooting Monday morning at the Washington Navy Yard left at least 13 people, including a suspected gunman, dead, and three others wounded.
District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier said that police had determined the gunman was a civilian Navy contractor, Aaron Alexis, 34, of Fort Worth, Texas, who was identified by fingerprints.
Alexis was a full-time Navy reservist until 2011, last serving with a logistics support squadron in Fort Worth.
He reportedly used a friend’s identification to get into Building 197, the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters where 3,000 people work, and engaged in multiple shootouts with police before being fatally shot.
The three wounded victims, including a police officer, were taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Dr. Janis Orlowski, the center’s chief medical officer, told reporters their chances of survival were good, and that all three were alert and speaking.
The police officer was shot in both of his legs. The other two victims were female civilians. One suffered injuries to her shoulder, the other to both her head and hand. All three were confirmed to have been wounded inside the Navy Yard, which is not far from the U.S. Capitol building.
The neighborhood near the naval facility remained sealed off, with residents locked out and nearby schools locked down six hours after the first reports of violence came in at 8:20a.m.
The U.S. Senate was placed on a preventive lockdown Monday afternoon, with votes postponed. The lockdown was later partly lifted. The Washington Nationals, whose stadium is a few blocks from the Navy Yard, postponed their Monday night game against the Atlanta Braves.
“We have no indication of any motive at this time,” Lanier said, adding that “there are very few questions we can answer at this point.”
The FBI had taken over the investigation, the police chief said.
The Washington Navy Yard is the oldest military installation in the nation and is the bustling home to several major Navy commands and other offices, including the Naval Sea Systems Command, where Monday’s shootings took place. About 16,000 employees, including civilian and military, work in dozens of brick buildings spread along the Navy Yard’s sprawling grounds.
Civilians, armed-services members and contract support personnel work there. They are responsible for engineering, building, purchasing and maintaining Navy ships, submarines and combat systems. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the largest of the Navy’s five systems commands.
Because the attack took place at a military facility in the capital, there were immediate fears that terrorism was involved. Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray told reporters there was no evidence one way or the other on terrorism.
On the premises
James Atkinson, a former military intelligence officer who heads Granite Island Group in Gloucester, Mass., said security is “extraordinarily poor.” The Navy hired his surveillance security firm in 2009 to test newly installed electronic security gates and other access controls inside Building 197.
The “controlled penetration” test revealed that a tamper sensor wasn’t working because of a design defect and that hardware-store-variety screws had been used to secure the main access-control panel instead of more-expensive screws that could be loosened only with a specific screwdriver, Atkinson said.