WASHINGTON (AP) — A dozen people died in a shooting rampage Monday at the Washington Navy Yard. It was the deadliest attack at a domestic military installation since November 2009, when an Army psychiatrist killed 13 people and wounded 30 others at Fort Hood, Texas. Early Tuesday, the stories of some of those who died started to surface.
Michael Arnold, 59, of Lorton, Va., was a Navy veteran and avid pilot who was building a light airplane at his home, said his uncle, Steve Hunter.
“It would have been the first plane he ever owned,” Hunter said in a telephone interview from Rochester, Mich., Arnold’s hometown. “It’s partially assembled in his basement.”
Hunter said his nephew retired from the Navy as a commander or lieutenant commander and had previously been stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. He worked at the Navy Yard on a team that designed vessels such as the USS Makin Island, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship used by the Marine Corps.
Arnold and his wife, Jolanda, had been married for more than 30 years, Hunter said. They had two grown sons, Eric and Christopher.
Hunter said Arnold returned to Michigan for Labor Day to visit his 80-year-old mother, Patricia.
“He was a loving son of his mother and his wife, and great father to his kids,” said Hunter. “It’s tragic. How can you get up in the morning and go to work and have that happen? How do bad things like that happen to good people?”
Sylvia Frasier, 53, had worked at Naval Sea Systems Command as an information assurance manager since 2000, according to a LinkedIn profile in her name.
Frasier studied at Strayer University, earning a bachelor of science in computer information systems in 2000 and a master’s in information systems in 2002. Her duties at NAVSEA included providing policy and guidance on network security, and assuring that all computer systems operated by the headquarters met Department of Navy and Department of Defense requirements.
She also led efforts “to establish and implement procedures to investigate security violations or incidents,” according to the profile.
Her brother, James Frasier, declined comment Monday night.
Kathleen Gaarde, 63, of Woodbridge, Va., was a financial analyst who supported the organization responsible for the shipyards, her husband, Douglass, wrote in an email to the AP Tuesday.
Douglass Gaarde declined to speak, but wrote that he was unable to sleep.
“Today my life partner of 42 years (38 of them married) was taken from me, my grown son and daughter, and friends,” he wrote. “We were just starting to plan our retirement activities and now none of that matters. It hasn’t fully sunk in yet but I know I already dearly miss her.”
Madelyn Gaarde, of Grand Junction, Colo., who’s married to Douglass Gaarde’s brother, said her sister- and brother-in-law met while he was studying electrical engineering at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
Douglass Gaarde, an Illinois native, also worked for the Navy until his retirement last year, his sister-in-law said.
“She was a very gracious person and very welcoming,” she said of Kathleen Gaarde.
Frank Kohler, 50, was a past president of the Rotary Club in Lexington Park, Md. As such, he proudly held the title of “King Oyster” at the annual festival celebrating the region’s signature bivalve the third weekend of each October.
“He walks around with a crown and robe and gives out candy,” said Bob Allen, Kohler’s former boss at Lockheed Martin in southern Maryland. “In fact, he was in charge of the beer stand. I used to have that job and when I left, I handed it off to him.”
The married father of two college-age daughters had driven up to the Washington Navy Yard for a meeting Monday when the shootings occurred, friends told Allen. Allen said Kohler had taken over for him as site manager for the defense contractor, but he was unsure what business his friend had at the Navy Yard.