Police in Washington, D.C. have confirmed 13 people – including one gunman – are dead after a Monday shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.
As many as 10 people were wounded, and the believed-to-be lone shooter was killed in a gunfight with a police officer, who was also shot.
After conflicting media reports, according to the Courier-Journal, the dead gunman was identified as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, from Fort Worth, Texas. The man’s identity had originally been incorrectly reported as a “Rollie Chance”.
Officials were searching for two other gunmen in the southeast D.C. area, who were said to be wearing military-style uniforms, but have since said they believe Alexis was the lone shooter.
Law enforcement officials said Alexis carried three weapons with him: an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun, and a handgun that he took from a police officer at the scene.
“We do know that several people have been shot, and some have been killed,” U.S. President Barack Obama said, shortly after the shooting took place. “We are confronted by yet another mass shooting.”
On Monday, Obama was originally preparing to address his nation on the “fifth anniversary” of the 2008 financial crisis.
“It’s a shooting that targeted our military and civilian personnel. These are men and women who were going to work, doing their job, protecting all of us. They’re patriots, and they know the dangers of serving abroad — but today, they faced unimaginable violence that they wouldn’t have expected here at home.
“… As this investigation moves forward, we will do everything in our power to make sure whoever carried out this cowardly act is held responsible.”
“We send our thoughts and prayers to all at the Navy Yard who’ve been touched by this tragedy.” —President Obama
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 16, 2013
Shots were first reported at 8:20 a.m. EST (5:20 a.m. PST) at the Navy Yard’s Naval Sea Systems Command building, where about 3,000 people work.
“It just happened to fast… I just ran,” said eyewitness Patricia Ward, who said she heard at least seven shots fired from inside a cafeteria on the Navy Yard’s campus.
Security has been increased at the U.S. Capitol Building – which is located only blocks from the Navy Yard – and airplanes at Reagan National Airport were briefly grounded. Schools in the area were also on lockdown.
Map of Washington, D.C. and the Washington Navy Yard. The Library of Congress and Capitol Hill are located just north, and the White House is located northwest of the Navy Yard.
Fort Worth, Texas residents talk about Aaron Alexis
Shortly after his identity was known, Fort Worth, Texas residents started filling that state’s local media in on the man some of them thought they knew.
“He lived with me three years,” Thai restaurant owner Nutpisit Suthamtewakul – who said he was Alexis’s best friend – told the Houston Chronicle. “I don’t think he’d do this. He has a gun, but I don’t think he’s that stupid. He didn’t seem aggressive to me.”
Alexis had previously worked for the Navy, and was detached from the U.S. Naval Reserve in January, 2011.
He was also arrested in Fort Worth in 2010, after he unlawfully discharged a weapon in a municipality – reportedly firing a shot through his ceiling and into his neighbour’s apartment, leaving that resident “terrified” of Alexis.
On Monday, police also confirmed that Alexis was arrested in Seattle in 2004 (while leaving in Washington state) when he was suspected of shooting out another man’s tires in a parking dispute. The incident was described by police as an “anger-fuelled blackout”, according to the Seattle PI.
FBI: Dead Navy Yard shooting suspect ID’d as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, a military contractor from Texas. http://t.co/8vkb9CQdyK
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) September 16, 2013
Two pieces of info shared by friends of Aaron Alexis. He spoke Thai; was an online gamer, including violent games
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) September 16, 2013
Aaron Alexis was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal http://t.co/XfiCGHiKZa
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) September 16, 2013