WASHINGTON — Multiple people were killed and several more wounded when at least one gunman opened fire Monday at the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters, authorities said.
The Navy said “several” people were killed at the Navy Yard. Ed Buclatin, the public affairs chief for the Navy Installations Command, tweeted “four killed and eight injured.” He also tweeted that reports of more than one shooter had not been confirmed.
A shooter had been “contained” in the building but was not in custody, according to a Defense Department official who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
A federal law enforcement official told USA TODAY that authorities have not ruled out the possibility of multiple shooters. The official who has been briefed on the matter said there were conflicting reports on the number of fatalities.
The first news broke with the Navy reporting on its Twitter feed that there was an “active shooter” at Building 197 at the Navy Yard, and that three shots had been fired at 8:20 a.m. ET. The Navy later reported deaths and injuries, but details remained fluid.
The White House released a statement: “The president has been briefed several times about the unfolding situation at the Washington Navy Yard by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco and Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco. The President directed his team to stay in touch with our federal partners, including the Navy and FBI, as well as the local officials. We urge citizens to listen to the authorities and follow directions from the first responders on site.”
James Killingsworth, a mason from Frederick, Md., was working on rebuilding a historic wall about 100 yards from the Navy Yard entrance when he heard two gunshots. If there were any other shots, he said, they were immediately drowned out by wailing sirens.
“Everything they had, Secret Service, federal police, everyone came speeding down the street. I’ve never seen so many police in my life, ” he said. “Scary morning.”
Flights at nearby Washington Reagan National Airport were disrupted, with all departures halted at the airport as of 10 a.m. ET. Flight have resumed.
The Navy Yard is located on the banks of the Anacostia River, a few blocks from the Nationals baseball stadium. It’s in an urban area where the development of new parks, shops and apartments has been ongoing.
The headquarters is the workplace for about 3,000 people.
The sea systems command is responsible for engineering, building, buying and maintaining ships, submarines and combat systems for the fleet. The sea systems command is the largest of the Navy’s five system commands, with an annual budget of nearly $30 billion.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY; WUSA-TV