It was the single largest loss of life in D.C. since 1982. Now, nearly three days after 13 people were killed at Washington’s Navy Yard, including the alleged shooter, details are beginning to emerge about what may have brought the gunman there, what happened once he entered Building 197, and who the victims are.
The shooting brings the number of those killed in mass shootings this year to 40, according to the Huffington Post. But closer to home there is a different number in mind: 81. That’s the number of people killed in DC this year, including Awele Olisemeka and Robert Spencer, each also killed this week.
In response to Monday’s Navy Yard shooting, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region announced in a press release that it will create two funds; one to help the injured and victims’ families, one to address the long-term challenges of violence in the region.
A roundup of what we know so far about the Navy Yard shooting, and the identities of the victims, follows.
The alleged gunman, Aaron Alexis, was employed as a contractor at the Navy Yard. On Monday, starting at about 8:15 a.m., Alexis began firing at people on the fourth floor, the third floor and in the lobby of the building.
The Washington Post reports that Alexis was familiar with the building, though his path Monday morning was “indiscriminate.”
By now, the police teams — joined by at least three naval security officers and U.S. Park Police — were moving in military fashion, stalking Alexis even as he stalked his victims on the fourth floor above Vandroff.
But the gunman had the advantage, familiar with the building’s layout and using the balcony wall for concealment as he fired the shotgun from the high ground into the atrium.
He was eventually shot and killed by law enforcement.
Before Monday’s shooting, Alexis had twice previously fired a gun in anger, but faced little difficulty from background checks. He purchased his firearm legally. As a contractor, he was also permitted to be at the Navy Yard.
As an honorably discharged veteran, he cleared a basic hurdle to receive a Defense Department security pass. Despite his being investigated by police departments in Seattle and Fort Worth, for firing a gun in anger, no charges were filed that would have shown up in his F.B.I. fingerprint file. Despite mental health issues — he twice went to Veterans Affairs hospitals last month seeking treatment for insomnia — he was never committed and so was legally able in Virginia to buy the weapon the police said he used in the shootings.
The South Florida Business Journal reports that company which employed Alexis also conducted two background checks, separate from Alexis’s government clearance:
The company said it “enlisted a service to perform two background checks and we confirmed twice through the Department of Defense his Secret government clearance.”
According to the news release, the latest background check and security clearance confirmation were in late June of 2013 and revealed no issues other than one minor traffic violation.
As details emerge, we are also beginning to learn about those killed.
He was “an institution” who knew the Navy’s America-class amphibious assault ships as well as anyone, said Capt. Mark Vandroff, a colleague, adding that Arnold was the Navy’s go-to guy in negotiations over any purchase for America-class ships.
Retired Navy Surface Warfare Officer Marty Bodrog was remembered Tuesday by his family as a “humble, loving father and neighbor,” who would walk his dog around his quiet, leafy cul-de-sac wearing a Boston Bruins hockey jersey, rain or shine.
Arthur Daniels, 51, was the one who cooked Thanksgiving dinner every year for the entire family, including their five children and nine grandchildren. He spent weekends washing and polishing his white Crown Victoria, which was still at the Navy Yard.
When Frasier failed to show up for her Monday night shift, and her team learned hours later that she was among a dozen people slain in the Washington Navy Yard massacre, many of her colleagues were crushed. Some cashiers cried at their registers on Tuesday morning. Others teared up within seconds of talking to The Huffington Post about Frasier.
“Known for his infectious smile, he never said a bad thing about anyone. He would want us to forgive the shooter, because that’s how he was - a forgiving person,” his daughter said in an email. “He loved to work and has always worked. He loved the interaction with the people and wanted to keep on working.”
Kathleen Gaarde, 63, loved animals and hockey, specifically, the Washington Capitals team, according to the Associated Press. Though he didn’t speak to reporters, Gaarde’s husband Douglass Gaarde gave them a written message:
“Today my life partner of 42 years (38 of them married) was taken from me, my grown son and daughter, and friends,” he wrote. “We were just starting to plan our retirement activities and now none of that matters. It hasn’t fully sunk in yet but I know I already dearly miss her.”
“Everything was going her way. Her daughter had gotten married. She was very happy,” said Lilly. “It’s just unreal. You don’t expect this. It’s really hard, every-time the phone rings I am hoping it is her calling saying ‘Hey! I am OK.”
Frank Kohler, 50, spent a lot of time doing community service, despite his full-time job, reported the Washington Post.
The 50-year-old Kohler served as the president of the club in 2005, leading a campaign to donate a dictionary to every third-grader in St. Mary’s County. After serving his term, he earned the customary title of “King Oyster.” He received a crown and robe and helped lead the national oyster shucking competition.
Pandit had grown up in Mumbai on the shores of the Indian Ocean. Jain was sure that’s what sparked his friend’s interest in the sea. In his career with the U.S. Navy, Pandit’s “passion was trying to making things work better,” improve technologies and make equipment run more efficiently on board the vessels, Jain said. “Kisan loved the Navy.”
“I am always over-thinking and letting my thoughts evolve on events that have less impact on my goals than what’s really necessary,” Proctor wrote on Facebook recently. “I know now to eliminate all that really don’t exist in reality and bring forth what will allow me to be me. GOD!”
Neighbors in Alexandria, Va., often saw Mr. Read out walking the rescue dogs that his wife took in or feeding birds and squirrels in front of his cream-colored split-level home. Mr. Read loved the dogs, along with his carefully tended garden and, of course, his family. He and his wife, Kathy, have a grown daughter, Jessica, and three granddaughters, whom they treated to a backyard cookout on Labor Day.
“Dad was really good at taking every opportunity to let us know that he loved us,” said Heather Hunt at a vigil for her father Tuesday evening at a softball field where he would coach the Westminster Jaycees girls’ softball team. The team reunited on the field for a remembrance ceremony to honor the man who lived to serve his community and whose death is now part of a national tragedy.
If we missed a story or information that you feel should be included in this report please contribute in the comments field below.