At least one gunman opened fire inside a building at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday morning, and officials said six people were killed and at least four were wounded, including at least one law enforcement officer.
Police were looking for two other potential gunmen wearing military-style uniforms, including one who had on a beret, chief Cathy Lanier said. One had a long gun and the other was also armed, she said. One of the three gunmen had died, though Lanier didn’t say how.
Ed Zeigler, director of public affairs for Naval District Washington, said two suspected shooters are “down.” The shootings occurred about 8:20 a.m.
President Barack Obama, in remarks Monday afternoon, called the shooting victims “patriots.” Targeting military personnel and civilians, he said, was a “cowardly” act. He described the shootings as an act of “unimaginable violence.”
Witnesses described a gunman opening fire from the fourth floor, aiming down on people in the first-floor cafeteria. Others said a gunman fired at them in a third-floor hallway.
As witnesses emerged from the building, a helicopter hovered over the building, schools were on lockdown and airplanes at nearby Reagan National Airport were briefly grounded.
CNN reported an increase in security at the Pentagon and other military installations in the Washington area.
Less than 2 miles away, security was beefed up at the Capitol, but officials said there was no known threat there. President Barack Obama was getting frequent briefings on the shooting.
The exact number of people killed and the conditions of those wounded was not immediately known. About 3,000 people work at the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters, which builds, buys and maintains the Navy’s ships and submarines and combat systems.
Todd Brundidge, an executive assistant with Navy Sea Systems Command, said he and other co-workers encountered a gunman in a long hallway of their building 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 program management analyst who is a civilian with the U.S. Navy, said a gunman was shooting from a fourth floor overlook in the hallway outside his office. He said the gunman was aiming down at people in the building’s cafeteria on the first floor. Mason said he could hear the shots but could not see a gunman.
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 and heard shots. They sounded like “pop, pop, pop,” she said. After a few seconds, there were more shots.
“Everybody just panicked at first,” she said. “It was just people running, running, running.”
Ward said security officers started directing people out of the building with guns drawn.
Police and federal agents from multiple law enforcement agencies responded. Ambulances were parked outside, streets in the area were closed and departures from Reagan National Airport were temporarily halted for security reasons.
Among the wounded was a D.C. police officer, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation.
A U.S. Park Police helicopter hovered over the building and appeared to drop a basket with a person onto the roof.
Officials at MedStar Washington Hospital Center said three shooting victims had been brought there and were in critical condition..
District of Columbia schools officials said six schools and one administrative building in the vicinity of the Navy Yard were placed on lockdown. The action was taken out an abundance of caution, schools spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz said.
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. It builds, buys and maintains the Navy’s ships and submarines and their combat systems.
The Navy Yard is part of a fast-growing neighborhood on the banks of the Anacostia River in southeast Washington, just blocks from Nationals Park and about 1 ½ miles southeast of the U.S. Capitol.
It houses a museum, the residence of the chief of naval operations and is responsible for weapons development, among other functions.
About 3,000 people work at the Navy Yard, the Navy said in a statement.
President Barack Obama has been updated on the incident throughout the morning, and is expected to speak within the hour.
Washington police and the FBI said an “active shooter” still was on the grounds. The shooting occurred inside Naval Sea System Command headquarters, according to CNN. U.S. Capitol police and officers from numerous other agencies in the Washington area were assisting in the search.
No other Navy installations have been locked down because of what’s going on in Washington, the Navy said.
A Navy spokesman tweeted at 9:35 a.m. that four people were killed, eight injured, and that one shooter was “down.” DC police also reported four killed and eight wounded, and said there may be more than one shooter.
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The Washington Post reported there were up to three shooters, one dressed in military fatigues.
The Post reported that gunfire was heard about 11 a.m., and also that one of the heavily armed shooters was “down.” One shooter reportedly was dressed in black and was armed with an assault rifle.
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