FBI: Gunman killed twelve before dying

Emergency vehicles line the streets outside the Washington Navy Yard.<br>
Associated Press

Emergency vehicles line the streets outside the Washington Navy Yard.<br> Associated Press

WASHINGTON - A former Navy reservist went on a shooting rampage Monday inside a building at the heavily secured Washington Navy Yard, firing from a balcony onto office workers in the cafeteria below, authorities and witnesses said. Thirteen people were killed, including the gunman.

Authorities said they were looking for a possible second attacker who may have been disguised in an olive-drab military-style uniform.

But as the day wore on and night fell, the rampage increasingly appeared to be the work of a lone gunman, and Navy Yard employees were gradually being released from the complex and children were let out of their locked-down schools.

Investigators said they had not established a motive for the attack, which unfolded about 8:20 a.m. in the heart of the nation's capital, less than four miles from the White House and two miles from the Capitol.

As for whether it may have been a terrorist attack, Mayor Vincent Gray said: "We don't have any reason to think that at this stage." But he said the possibility had not been ruled out.

It was the deadliest shooting rampage at a U.S.-based military installation since Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others in 2009 at Fort Hood in Texas. He was convicted last month and sentenced to death.

President Barack Obama lamented yet another mass shooting in the U.S. that he said took the lives of American patriots. He promised to make sure "whoever carried out this cowardly act is held responsible."

The FBI took charge of the investigation and identified the gunman killed in the attack as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis of Texas. He died after a running gunbattle with police, investigators said.

Authorities were investigating how he got onto the base. Officials said he may have had a badge that allowed access.

At the time of the rampage, he was working in information technology with a company that was a Defense Department subcontractor.

He also was taking courses online from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Melanie Hanns, a spokeswoman for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at the main campus in Daytona Beach, Fla., confirmed Alexis was currently enrolled as a worldwide online student via the campus in Fort Worth, Texas. He started classes in July 2012, and was pursuing a bachelor's degree in aeronautics.

"The entire university community's hearts and thoughts are with the victims and families of those affected by this tragedy," she stated via email. "We are cooperating fully with investigating officials."

Alexis was a full-time Navy reservist from 2007 to early 2011, leaving as a petty officer third class, the Navy said. It did not say why he left. He had been an aviation electrician's mate with a unit in Fort Worth, Texas.

Patricia Ward, a logistics-management specialist, said she was in the cafeteria getting breakfast.

"It was three gunshots straight in a row - pop, pop, pop. Three seconds later, it was pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, so it was like about a total of seven gunshots, and we just started running," Ward said.

In addition to those killed, more than a dozen people were hurt, including a police officer and two female civilians who were shot and wounded. They were all expected to survive.

The Washington Navy Yard is a sprawling labyrinth of buildings and streets protected by armed guards and metal detectors, and employees have to show their IDs at doors and gates to come and go. About 20,000 people work there.

The rampage took place at Building 197, the headquarters for Naval Sea Systems Command, which buys, builds and maintains ships, submarines and combat systems. About 3,000 people work at headquarters, many of them civilians.

Witnesses described a gunman opening fire from a fourth-floor overlook, aiming down on people in the cafeteria on the main floor. 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 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 the gunman fired toward her and Brundidge.

"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.'"

Police would not give any details on the gunman's weaponry, but witnesses said the man they saw had a long gun - which can mean a rifle or a shotgun.

In the confusion, police said around midday that they were searching for two men who may have taken part in the attack - one carrying a handgun and wearing a tan Navy-style uniform and a beret, the other armed with a long gun and wearing an olive-green uniform. Washington Police Chief Cathy Lanier said it was unclear if the men were members of the military.

But later in the day, police said the man in the tan uniform had been identified and was not involved in the shooting.

As emergency vehicles and law enforcement officers flooded streets around the complex, a helicopter hovered, nearby schools were locked down and airplanes at nearby Reagan National Airport were grounded so they would not interfere with law-enforcement choppers.

Security was tightened at other federal buildings. Senate officials shut down their side of the Capitol while authorities searched for the potential second attacker. The House remained open.

UPDATE

WASHINGTON (AP) - Defense officials say the suspected Washington Navy Yard gunman was currently working as a defense department contractor, but it's not clear if he was assigned at the military base in southeast D.C.

Defense officials say Aaron Alexis, 34, of Texas, was working as an information technology contractor, but it was not known which company employed him. As a contractor, he could have had a badge that might have gained him access to the base. Alexis was a former Navy reservist, serving from 2007 to early 2011.

The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University also says he was an online student pursuing a bachelor's degree in aeronautics. He started classes in July 2012.

Thirteen people were killed during the shooting rampage at Building 197. More than a dozen others were wounded.

AP's earlier story:

WASHINGTON - Police say at least 13 people have died in the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard. D.C.

Police Chief Cathy Lanier said during a news conference Monday that 13 people have been confirmed dead.

Lanier says people are being told to stay in their homes and out of the area as authorities search for two other possible suspects. One of the shooters has died.

The police chief says officers are searching for two other people with firearms wearing military-style uniforms.

She says there is no indication of a possible motive at this time.

***

As many as three gunmen opened fire Monday inside one of the Navy's oldest buildings, attacking office workers at a heavily guarded military facility in the heart of the nation's capital. At least six people were killed.

One of the gunmen was dead, and police were searching for two other men believed to have joined in the attack at the Washington Navy Yard. The suspects were reportedly dressed in military-style clothing, including one who had on a beret.

In all, more than a dozen people were shot, at least half of them fatally. It was not immediately clear whether that number included the dead gunman.

The attack unfolded just a short distance from the White House and the U.S. Capitol at a former shipyard that is one of the Navy's oldest shore facilities.

The building that was targeted was the military's headquarters for Naval Sea Systems Command, which buys, builds and maintains ships, submarines and combat systems. About 3,000 people work at the headquarters, many of them civilians.

Witnesses described a gunman opening fire from a fourth-floor overlook, aiming down on people in the first-floor cafeteria. Others said a gunman fired at them in a third-floor hallway.

It was not clear whether the witnesses on different floors were describing the same gunman.

As emergency vehicles and law enforcement officers flooded streets around the complex, a helicopter hovered overhead, nearby schools were locked down and airplanes at nearby Reagan National Airport were briefly grounded so they would not interfere with law-enforcement choppers. Less than 2 miles away, security was beefed up at the Capitol and other federal buildings, but officials said there was no known threat.

President Barack Obama mourned yet another mass shooting in the U.S. that he said took the lives of American patriots. Obama promised to make sure "whoever carried out this cowardly act is held responsible."

Two Navy officials confirmed at least six people had died. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the situation publicly.

Todd Brundidge, an executive assistant with Navy Sea Systems Command, said he and other co-workers encountered a gunman in a long hallway 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 Brundidge.

"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.'"

Rick Mason, a civilian program-management analyst for the Navy, said a gunman was shooting from the overlook in the hallway outside his office.

Shortly after the gunfire, Mason said, someone on an overhead speaker told workers to seek shelter and later to head for the gates at the complex.

Patricia Ward, a logistics-management specialist, said she was in the cafeteria getting breakfast.

"It was three gunshots straight in a row - pop, pop, pop. Three seconds later, it was pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, so it was like about a total of seven gunshots, and we just started running," Ward told reporters several blocks away from the Navy Yard.

Ward said security officers started directing people out of the building with guns drawn.

One person died at George Washington University Hospital of a single gunshot wound to the left temple, said Dr. Babak Sarani, director of trauma and acute care surgery. A police officer and two civilian women were in critical condition at Washington Hospital Center, said Janis Orlowski, the hospital's chief operating officer.

Orlowski said the police officer was in the operating room with gunshot wounds to the legs. One woman had a gunshot wound to the shoulder. The other had gunshot wounds to the head and hand.

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. Only security personnel were allowed to be armed on the campus.

The Navy Yard has three gates, according to its website. One is open around the clock and must be used by visitors. A second gate is only for military and civilian Defense Department employees. The other gate is for bus traffic.

The Navy Yard is part of a fast-growing neighborhood on the banks of the Anacostia River in southeast Washington, just blocks from the Nationals Park baseball stadium.