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Indian-American, gunman, among 13 killed in US Navy Yard shooting

Last updated on: September 17, 2013 14:43 IST

13 killed in US Navy Yard shooting

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At least 12 people, including an Indian-American, were killed by a lone gunman in an audacious mass shooting at the high-security Washington Navy Yard located at a short distance from the White House.

In all 12 people -- mostly military contractors -- were killed when the gunman, himself a defence contractor, went on a shooting rampage inside the Washington Navy Yard on Monday.

"We now have a total of 13 fatalities, including the shooter," Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray told reporters at a news conference.

The Washington Metropolitan Police on Monday released the names of seven of those who were killed in the shootout.

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Image: Aaron Alexis, who the FBI believe to be responsible for the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard in the Southeast area of Washington, DC, is shown in this handout photo released by the FBI
Photographs: Reuters

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One of them was 61-year-old Indian-American Vishnu Pandit.

The other six identified victims were Michael Arnold, 59; Sylvia Frasier, 53; Kathy Gaarde, 62; John Roger Johnson, 73; Frank Kohler, 50; and Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46.

No other details were immediately known about Pandit, except that he was a defence contractor.

"We don't know what the motive is at this stage. We will continue to seek information about what the motive is, but we don't have any reason at this stage to suspect terrorism, but certainly it has not been ruled out," Gray said.

The shooter, who died in the brazen incident, was identified as 34-year-old military contractor Aaron Alexis.

According to officials, Alexis left Texas about a year ago. He is believed to have entered the Navy Yard with a valid badge and had been in the Washington region for about four months. He worked as an hourly employee with a defence contractor.

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Image: A law enforcement officer keeps bystanders back from the scene of a shooting at the Washington Navy Yard
Photographs: Jason Reed/Reuters

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According to biographical data provided by the navy, Alexis had been in the navy as a full-time reservist between May 2007 and January 2011, and left as a petty officer third class.

President Barack Obama condemned the shooting at Washington's Navy Yard as a "cowardly act".

Later, Obama issued a proclamation in the honour of those who died in the shooting and ordered that the national flag be flown at half-mast. He also cancelled a musical evening scheduled at the White House.

Obama, who personally monitored the developments, called Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey to get an update on the incident.

Initially, police said they were looking for two more suspects.

"We talked about the possibility of there being two other suspects. One of those has been ruled out. That gentleman has been identified and is no longer a suspect," Gray said.

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Image: Law enforcement officers are deployed on a rooftop as they respond to a shooting on the base at the Navy Yard
Photographs: Jason Reed/Reuters

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"Alexis' place of birth is Queens, New York, and his last known residence was Fort Worth, Texas," the FBI said in a statement.

FBI official Valerie Parlave asked the public to share any information they might have about the suspected shooter.

"This remains a very active investigation. We will continue to run down every lead and we will continue to work together on this investigation with our law enforcement partners," he said.

Immediately after the shooting, several buildings in the area were locked down and security was enhanced around the White House, the Pentagon and the US Capitol.

As a matter of precaution, the Senate building was also locked down for several hours on Monday, only to be partially lifted later in the evening.

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Image: Law enforcement officers cordon off the streets outside the Washington Navy Yard following a shooting in Washington
Photographs: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

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Washington Metropolitan Chief of Police Cathy Lanier asked residents, communities and businesses in the immediate area to shelter in place and avoid the areas mentioned until they finish their work.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said it was a tragic day for the department of defence, the national capital area, and the nation.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this outrageous act of violence, their families, and all those affected by today's events," he said.

Meanwhile, the White House reiterated the demand for strong gun control laws.

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Image: Navy Yard workers evacuated during a shooting arrive at a makeshift shelter at the Nationals Park baseball stadium near the naval installation, to be reunited with family members, in Washington
Photographs: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

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"We should take action to reduce gun violence. We should take common sense action that is supported by Americans from every part of the country," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Monday at his news conference.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said there are still few details available on what led to this tragedy, or who the perpetrator or perpetrators may be.

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Image: A family member of a Navy Yard worker who was evacuated during a shooting arrives hoping to find him at a makeshift shelter at the Nationals Park baseball stadium near the naval installation in WashingtonAccording to the biographical data provided by the navy, Alexis had been in the navy as a full-time reservist from May 2007 to January 2011, and left as a petty officer third class. The shooting is believed to have started around 8.15 am (local time) on Monday. Immediately after the shooting, several buildings in the area were locked down and security was enhanced around the White House, the Pentagon and the US Capitol. According to The Wall Street Journal, Alexis held a secret security clearance through his employer, The Experts, which had rehired him in July to work on a project at the navy facility. Click on NEXT for more...
Photographs: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

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"The men and women in our military courageously put their lives on the line in many dangerous places around the world. It's painful for all of us to think about them having to worry about their safety when they come home too," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

"Members of Congress always stand with the members of our military. Today, we hold a special place in our hearts for those who serve our country at the Navy Yard and for all caught in the crossfire of today's horrible attack," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

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Photographs: Jason Reed/Reuters

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