At least 13 people are dead and several others were wounded after a gunman opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, police said, spreading fear and chaos across the region as authorities sought to contain the panic.

The incident, in which the death toll rose almost hourly, represents the single worst loss of life in the District since an airliner plunged into the Potomac River in 1982, killing 78.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced the mounting number of casualties in a series of news conferences. The suspected shooter, identified by the FBI as Aaron Alexis, 34, living in Fort Worth, is among the 13 dead. Alexis was a military contractor, one official said.

But even hours after the rampage began, it was still unclear whether the shooting was the act of a lone gunman, or if other shooters were involved. Lanier initially said authorities were looking for two more potential shooters dressed in military style clothing. But shortly after she announced a detailed description of two suspects, city officials said one had been located and cleared.

Gray said no motive is known yet. He said there is no reason to believe it was an act of terrorism, though he added that he could not rule it out.

Gray said that in addition to those killed, about a dozen people were hurt. It was not clear whether those people were shot or suffered other injuries, he said.

Lanier described the other possible suspect, who has not been located, as a black man in his 40s with gray sideburns, wearing an olive-drab military-style uniform. He, and the man who was cleared, came under suspicion when they were seen on surveillance videos.

Police are asking anyone with information on the suspect to call 202-727-9099.

Alexis was armed with an assault rifle and a handgun, two law enforcement officials said. One said he also had a shotgun. One official said all the weapons have not been accounted for.


Navy Yard shooter identified with death toll currently sitting at 13

After a manhunt that at one point involved up to three possible suspected shooters, authorities have identified the Washington Navy Yard shooter as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, a former Navy electrician who was also a civilian government contractor.

A Navy officer has confirmed to the Times that Alexis had been discharged after multiple disciplinary infractions.

Alexis, who is among the 13 who have died so far, entered the massive headquarters of the Navy Sea Systems Command in southeastern D.C. and opened fire on employees, with a number of witnesses recounting this morning’s harrowing events.

"I think it was all on the fourth floor," Patricia Ward, one of the witnesses, told reporters.

Ward, a logistics management specialist, was in Building 197 when the shooting started. She said she was in the lobby using the ATM machine when she heard three shots. She said she started “panicking.” She said she didn’t know what was going on. Then she heard four more shots. A security guard with a gun drawn told them to run, she said. “I just ran. I thought of my family and I just ran.” Someone had pulled the fire alarm.

Read more over at Nation Now as we find out more.

Photos: FBI, Susan Walsh / Associated Press, Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images

A guy on 4chan made the most brilliant and succinct argument I’ve read in a while regarding the self-absorbed stupidity of aggressive gun rights activists. I should have printscreened it, but this was before the DC shooting, so I’ll try to recite it as best I can.

You want to own a gun so badly because you never know what will happen? Someone might break in, someone might try to mug you, you never know? Okay, so then, do you carry around a vehicle glass cracker in case your car goes into the river? An epipen in case you’re allergic to something you don’t know yet? Portable defibrillator in case you have a heart attack? Do you keep a parachute in your plane’s carry-on? Do you even carry a spare set of keys in case you lock your first one in the car? No? Of course not. All you care about is owning that long, black gun because movies have convinced you that it’s cool.

Everything is backwards.
  • Can we talk about how the domestic terrorism suspect in the Navy Yard shootings had fired his guns on two separate occasions and was somehow never charged with a crime?  Or that he had been discharged from the military but still was given unfettered access to a military installation?