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Washington Navy Yard shooter was former serviceman, police confirm

Thirteen people, including gunman Aaron Alexis, were killed in today’s mass shooting at a Washington DC naval base.

The Washington Navy Yard
The Washington Navy Yard
Image: Screengrab ABC7

Updated at 9.59pm

THE DEATH TOLL from today’s mass shooting at a naval base in Washington has risen to 13, police confirmed tonight, naming one of the dead as the alleged gunman.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation identified the suspect as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, of Fort Worth, Texas, adding he was a former serviceman.

Another possible suspect remains at large.

The shooting sparked a massive show of force as police and federal agents surrounded the Navy Yard, cordoning off streets only blocks from the US Capitol, home of Congress

US officials gave no indication of any link to terrorism, while police said the motive for the attack on the installation was unknown.

Washington DC police chief Cathy Lanier said initially that there were two other potential shooters on the loose, but her deputies later said one of those suspects had been cleared.

With streets blocked off, Lanier warned residents near the Navy Yard that police were still conducting an “active search.”

“Stay in your homes and stay out of the area,” she said.

As the FBI took charge of the investigation, conflicting reports swirled online, and a clear picture of exactly what had happened at the naval installation had yet to emerge.

Earlier media reports had said a shooter allegedly barricaded himself in a room in a headquarters building.

The police chief confirmed a Washington DC police officer was among those injured in the rampage, and hospital officials said he was in critical condition with wounds to his legs.

Shots

One employee at the Navy Yard, Patricia Ward, said she had just paid for her breakfast at a cafeteria when shots rang out.

“I was waiting for my friend to pay when we heard the gun shot. It was three gun shots straight in a row, ‘pow-pow-pow,’” she told reporters.

“Three seconds later it was ‘pow-pow-pow.’ So it was like a total of seven gun shots. And we just started running.”

The guard “told all of us to just run, to get away as fast as you can.”

imageWorkers are evacuated from their buildings (Jacquelyn Martin/AP/Press Association Images)

She said employees do not have to pass through a metal detector when they enter the building.

Police blocked off intersections around the Navy Yard as military troops in uniform stood guard at street corners and patrol boats moved in near the site along the banks of the Anacostia river.

Crowds of onlookers stood on sidewalks watching the drama unfold, as helicopters swarmed overhead.

Flights out of the nearby Reagan National Airport were briefly delayed and schools were on lockdown until anxious parents came to pick up their children in the afternoon.

Senate

The US Senate adjourned for the day as a precaution and Washington’s baseball team, the Nationals, whose stadium is adjacent to the Navy Yard, called off its Monday evening game.

The Navy said at least three shots were fired at 8:20 am (2.20pm Irish time) in the headquarters building of the Naval Sea Systems Command.

imagePolice leave the Navy Yard following today’s operation (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/Press Association Images)

About 3,000 people work at the headquarters, which oversees the building and buying of warships and combat systems.

The complex also has a residence which serves as the home of the four-star chief of the US Navy, Admiral Jonathan Greenert.

President Barack Obama called the shooting a “cowardly act” and lamented that America was confronting “yet another mass shooting,” saying troops in the military should not have to confront danger at home.

This post was previously updated at 10.30pm

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