A lone gunman killed eleven people and injured many more in an attack Monday morning in Washington D.C.’s Navy Yard district.
Washington, D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier said one gunman – identified by police as Aaron Alexis, a military contractor from Texas – was dead on the scene. Lanier initially said two possible co-conspirators were at large, however one of those individuals was later cleared of any involvement and a police manhunt for a second shooter was called off.
“We have the single and sole person responsible for the loss of life inside the base today,” Lanier said late Monday.
The attack began at around 8:20 a.m. when three shots were fired at the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters building – which houses an estimated 3,000 government employees. More shots followed in rapid succession. Witnesses described the shooter as a “tall, black man” carrying a rifle.
U.S. President Barack Obama was informed of the attack by his national security advisors.
“We are confronting yet another mass shooting,” Obama said. “And today it happened on a military installation in our nation’s capital. It’s a shooting that targeted our military and civilian personnel.”
Obama called the victims of the attack “patriots.”
Security was enhanced at federal office buildings in the nation’s capitol and planes at Reagan National Airport were briefly grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in response to the violence.
Washington, D.C. has some of the nation’s strictest anti-gun laws. It is unlawful for citizens to carry firearms – concealed or otherwise. Meanwhile the city has regulations banning the ownership of a wide range of weapons and high-capacity magazines. Not only that, Washington, D.C. residents wishing to own a weapon must submit to fingerprinting, complete a weapons safety course and pass a written test on the district’s gun regulations.
In 1975 Washington D.C. banned all handguns – although the U.S. Supreme Court declared this law unconstitutional in 2008.
Despite its harsh anti-Second Amendment laws, Washington, D.C. had the eighth-highest murder rate in America in 2012 – with nearly 14 murders per 100,000 residents.
UPDATE: Local authorities are confirming deceased shooter Aaron Alexis acted alone in carrying out the Navy Yard attack.