Aaron Alexis, identified by authorities as a gunman in today’s massacre, died in a firefight with police, MPD Chief Cathy Lanier says.
Alexis, 34, was described by the Pentagon as a New York City resident who joined the Air Force in 2007 and most recently served as an aviation engineer’s mate third class.
Washington Navy Yard and the surrounding area remain locked down as authorities continue to look for a second person of interest. That individual is described as a black male between the ages of 40 and 50 wearing a drab, olive-colored, military-style uniform. Another individual police were looking for earlier in the day was found and cleared of any possible suspicion.
Still, DC’s leaders are still processing the shock of what will go down as one of the bloodiest days in the city’s history.
“We know other things like this have happened in the United States,” Mayor Vince Gray said, “but never like this in the District if Columbia.”
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents DC in the House of Representatives, plans to lead a moment of silence in honor on the House floor tomorrow when Congress reconvenes.
“This attack is not just on this facility,” Norton said, describing Navy Yard as one of the most secure sites in town. “It is an attack on our city, an attack on our country.”
Lanier added that had it not been for active shooter teams composed of MPD officers and other agencies responding within minutes, the death toll could have been much worse.
“No question he would have kept shooting,” Lanier said. “This is one of the worst things we’ve seen.”
Still, Lanier would not provide details of how long it tool for police to track down Alexis after the first shots were reported about 8:20 AM. “Officers are still actively engaged,” she said.
Valerie Parlave, the FBI’s assistant director in charge of the Washington field office, which is leading the investigation, did not elaborate much further.
Moreover, there is the outstanding question of how Alexis gained access to the Navy Yard building, which houses the main office of one of the Navy’s largest commands. Bryan Lynn Chaney, a worker in the building who spoke with reporters earlier in the afternoon, said access to the building is controlled by a pass known as a “common access card,” or CAC.