Washington, Sep 17: A shooting rampage at a US naval base that sent shock waves through the US capital Monday left at least 12 people dead, including one of three suspected gunmen dressed in military style uniforms, and many wounded.
The mounting death toll in the morning shooting at the sprawling Washington Navy Yard complex in Southeast Washington, where some 30,000 military and civilian work, was confirmed by the capital Police Chief Cathy Lanier at a 2 p.m. briefing.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has taken the lead in investigating the crime and authorities are still looking for two other potential suspects wearing green and tan military style clothing, she said.
Mayor Vincent C. Gray said no motive is known. He said they have no reason to believe it was an act of terrorism, though he said he could not rule it out.
“The big concern for us right now is that we have potentially two other shooters that we have not located at this point,” Lanier said. NBC News cited several sources as identifying the dead shooter as Aaron Alexis, 34, originally of Fort Worth, Texas. Officials cited by the channel said he recently began working as a civilian contractor.
It was the deadliest mass shooting in the US since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last December, and the worst at a military installation since 13 people were killed at Fort Hood, Texas,in 2009.
President Barack Obama, who was kept briefed about the shooting as a “cowardly act”, and vowed that federal and local law enforcement officials would work together to hold accountable those responsible for the shooting.
In remarks before a speech marking the fifth anniversary of the economic crash, Obama said that enforcement will aim to be “seamless so that federal and local authorities are working together whoever carried out this cowardly act is held responsible”.
Air traffic to Reagan National Airport was suspended briefly after the shooting began at 8:20 a.m. Ten public and charter schools and a public school administration building in the capital were also placed on lockdown as a precaution.