WASHINGTON (AP) — As many as three gunmen opened fire Monday inside the Washington Navy Yard, attacking office workers at a heavily guarded military facility in the heart of the nation’s capital. At least 12 people were killed.
One of the gunmen was dead, and police were searching for two other men believed to have joined in the attack less than 4 miles from the White House. The suspects were reportedly disguised in military-style clothing, including one carrying a handgun and wearing a tan Navy-style uniform and a beret, D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier said. The other was said to carrying a long gun, wearing olive green garb.
“The big concern for us right now is, we potentially have two other shooters that we have not located,” Lanier said.
It was not immediately clear whether the number of dead included a gunman.
The attack unfolded less than 4 miles from the White House at a former shipyard that is one of the Navy’s oldest shore facilities.
The area that was targeted, known as Building 197, was part of 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. A short distance 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.”
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.