NBC News both cited Pentagon sources giving a name to a suspected gunman, but Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Flaherty of the Navy’s public affairs office told Washingtonian there was nothing to confirm those reports. NBC correspondent Pete Williams said on the air that the erroneous report stemmed from an ID badge found on the ground near the scene of the shooting.
UPDATE, 3:05 PM: Police are still investigating if there are other shooters in addition to the one who was pronounced dead earlier. But Lanier did provide updated descriptions of the other potential shooters. One is described as a white male between 40 and 50 years old wearing a tan military-style outfit consistent with a Navy uniform, while the other is a black male between 40 and 50 years with a medium complexion and graying sideburns.
Meanwhile, workers and military personnel continue to file out of Navy Yard. The US Senate Sergeant at Arms is also recommending that the Senate “shelter in place” for two hours. Law enforcement officials are expected to brief media again at 4 PM.
UPDATE, 3:40 PM: An FBI spokeswoman confirms to Washingtonian that a suspect has been identified as Aaron Alexis. The FBI is asking for the public’s assistance in seeking information about Alexis.
With 12 confirmed dead, today’s massacre at Navy Yard is the largest single mass-casualty event to hit DC since January 13, 1982, when a Boeing 737 crashed into the 14th Street Bridge, killing 74 people on board and four more on the ground.
UPDATE, 4:04 PM: Bryan Lynn Chaney, a US Army veteran who works in Building 197, says he was trying to get to his office on time when he heard the first shots ring out this morning just two floors above him.
“I heard what sounded like a locker door slamming,” Chaney says. After hearing more loud pops a few moments later, he realized something was wrong and started making his way out. “It’s probably shots, you need to get out,” he recalls saying to himself.
Chaney says he made his way to a triage area across the street as his building evacuated. He then held there for several hours before finally getting out of the yard and making his way down M St., SE into throngs of reporters.
Chaney says he heard five shots in total. “It sounded like a .22 to me,” he says. “But an AR-15 sounds similar. It’s more powerful.”
He adds that he and his coworkers were not thrown into a state of panic by the initial gunfire, but it was obviously a jolt. “Not a state of shock, but we didn’t know what was going on,” Chaney says.
UPDATE, 4:11 PM: Navy Yard employees who rushed off the base without collecting their belongings will be able to get home for free tonight courtesy of Metro. Station managers and bus drivers are being notified to waive fares for any Navy Yard worker who left their things at the office today, Metro spokesman Philip Stewart says.
UPDATE, 4:23 PM: The number of fatalities now stands at 13, according to Mayor Gray.