WASHINGTON: The Navy reported several fatalities Monday morning following a shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, but would not confirm news reports that put the number killed at four.
The Navy Yard was placed on lockdown after multiple shots were fired inside a building on the base, the U.S. Navy said. At least 10 people were injured in the shooting, including eight civilians, one Washington Metro police officer and one base officer, D.C. Metro Police said. According to the Associated Press, four people were killed.
Ed Ziegler, director of public affairs for the Naval District of Washington, said two suspected shooters were pinned down inside the building. Ziegler said he did not know the condition of those suspects.
Janis Orlowski, chief medical officer at Washington Hospital Center, said one Metropolitan Police officer and two civilians are being treated there. All three are in critical condition, Orlowski said, but are alert, speaking and have a good chance of survival.
One was shot in the legs, another in the shoulder and third person was shot in the head and hand.
Orlowski said Washington Hospital Center is prepared to handle eight to 10 more victims, but did not know how many victims would be transported to the hospital. She said she had been told to expect more.
The Navy said shots were fired at the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters building on the base at 8:20 a.m., and a “shelter in place” order was issued for Navy Yard personnel.
Rick Mason, an administrative specialist program management specialist for the U.S. Navy, told Yahoo News he was on the fourth floor when he saw a shooter had a shotgun, aiming down into the atrium. The gunman, Mason said, was targeting people who walked into the cafeteria.
Other employees described a chaotic scene.
“We heard two shots and started wondering if that was the sound of someone dropping someone or if they were really shots,” Omar Grant, a civilian employee at the Navy Yard who was on the first floor of the atrium, said. “We heard three more shots and that’s when people started running out of the building and getting the hell out of there.”
Approximately 3,000 people work in the building, the Navy said, though it’s unclear how many people were inside at the time of the shooting.
A White House official said President Barack Obama had been briefed several times about the unfolding situation at the Navy Yard by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco and Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromanaco.
A heavy SWAT and police presence could be seen around the Navy Yard, and a helicopter was circling overhead.
Employees could be seen huddled outside the base crying and holding each other. At least one of the victims was airlifted from the scene.
A ground stop was ordered at Reagan National Airport, and schools in the area were placed on temporary lockdown.
According to the Navy’s website, Naval Sea Systems “engineers, builds, buys and maintains the Navy’s ships and submarines and their combat systems.” Approximately 60,000 people work there.