News & Politics

Capitol Police Will Investigate Navy Yard Response After Report That Elite Unit Was Sent Away

A US Capitol Police tactical unit was not far from Navy Yard when Aaron Alexis's shooting spree began, but it was reportedly turned back when it raced to the scene.

Photograph by Flickr user dfirecop.

The US Capitol Police are reviewing their response to Monday’s shooting spree at Washington Navy Yard, following a report by BBC News that a heavily armed tactical unit was turned away when it attempted to respond to the unfolding scene. According to the BBC one of the Capitol Police’s elite teams of four heavily armed officers was not far from the Navy Yard when the first shots were fired about 8:20 AM.

But when the unit, which Capitol Police calls a Containment and Emergency Response Team, arrived to assist the Metropolitan Police Department officers responding to the gunfire being unleashed by former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis, it was reportedly told by a supervising officer to leave the scene.
“Odds are it might have had a different outcome,” Jim Konczos, the head of the union representing Capitol Police’s rank and file, told the BBC. “It probably could have been neutralized.”
Twelve people were killed before an MPD officer killed Alexis. At a news conference earlier this week, MPD Chief Cathy Lanier said it took between 30 minutes and an hour to put Alexis down through a response that included MPD, the US Park Police, and Navy Yard police. Three others were wounded by gunfire, including an MPD officer who was struck in both legs.
In a statement to Washingtonian, Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine says he personally called Lanier and “offered assets” during the evolving scene at Navy Yard. He says he was also in “close and constant coordination” with the Park Police, FBI, and other agencies that responded.
But in the face of the BBC and subsequent reports, there are questions about what transpired in what Lanier has called a “nearly flawless” response to Alexis’s rampage, and Dine is asking the Capitol Police Board to review his department’s response to the Navy Yard shootings, especially with respect to its mutual aid efforts.
“I take our response to this tragedy and our support to law enforcement partners very seriously,” Dine says. “While I am the Chief of Police, at my core I am a police officer who feels strongly about our shared commitment and responsibilities.”
The Capitol Police Board is due to report back on October 21.

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.