News & Politics

Still No Indication of Motive for Navy Yard Shooter

Though Mayor Gray says there is nothing to suggest it was an act of terrorism.

Chief Lanier and Mayor Gray at a news briefing 6 PM Monday. Photograph by Benjamin Freed.

Officials offered few updates at the latest briefing on the shooting rampage at Washington Navy Yard. Meanwhile, everyone is still trying to figure out what caused suspected gunman Aaron Alexis to open fire, leading to 13 deaths, including his own.

DC mayor Vince Gray and Metropolitan Police Department chief Cathy Lanier said again there is still no indication of motive in the massacre. Gray said there is no indication this was an act of terrorism.

Meanwhile, authorities, now led by the FBI, are still trying to locate a person of interest described as a middle-aged black male wearing a drab, olive-colored uniform. Another person of interest earlier today was cleared of any suspicion after authorities reviewed surveillance video from Navy Yard.

But while the scene is calming and the last Navy Yard employees evacuate, the area around the military installation remains the scene of a massive investigation. Lanier said people who do not reside in the vicinity should remain out of the area, while those who do should “shelter in place.”

FBI assistant director Valerie Parlave, who runs the bureau’s Washington field office, said “no piece of information is too small.”

Lanier also said that the MPD officer who was wounded in both legs is out of surgery and recovering at Washington Hospital Center. “He has serious injuries, but he is going to be okay,” the visibly exhausted Lanier said.

The chief blasted some in the gathered media for disseminating information earlier in the day that turned out to be false. CBS News and NBC News both were forced to retract stories after falsely identifying a suspected shooter. Lanier also said that police are not currently releasing details on what types of weapons and ammunition were used in the Navy Yard carnage. Authorities are also reviewing multiple surveillance videos, but none that can be released to the public, Lanier said.

But the impact of today’s events seems to be settling in. Perhaps only in 1977 when 12 gunmen stormed the District government building, taking 149 hostages and killing two people, has the city experienced such a brazen act. But with a mass shooting, DC joins the ranks of places like Newtown, Connecticut, or Aurora, Colorado.

Gray, who took office in January 2011, described it as one of the most difficult days of his term.

“It’s one of the hardest days of anyone’s life,” the mayor told Washingtonian. “This was horrific. I don’t think any mayor or chief of police thinks they’ll go through this.”

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.