A SHOOTING rampage in the heart of a US Navy complex in Washington has left 13 people dead.
One shooter identified as Aaron Alexis, 34, from Fort Worth, Texas, was killed after opening fire on police, but police were looking for one other possible gunman wearing a military-style uniform.
President Barack Obama said he was mourning “yet another mass shooting” and called it a “cowardly act.”
Officials said at least three people were critically wounded in the rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, including a law enforcement officer. Hospital officials said all three were expected to recover.
It is believed the shooter’s weapon was an AR-15, the same gun used in the Sandy Hook elementary school and Aurora cinema massacres.
Police had been looking into the possibility of an additional two shooters but at a 4pm press conference (6am AEST) ruled out one of those suspects as having any involvement.
The shooting led to tightened security at the Capitol and White House nearby, including shutting down the Senate while a possible remaining shooter was sought.
Washington DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier announced the death toll and said people were being told to stay in their homes and out of the area. Lanier said there was no indication of a possible motive. The fatalities includes the dead gunman.
Witnesses described a gunman opening fire from a fourth-floor overlook, aiming down on people in the first-floor cafeteria. Others said a gunman fired at them in a third-floor hallway.
Todd Brundidge, an executive assistant with Navy Sea Systems Command, said he and other co-workers encountered a gunman in a long hallway of their building on the third floor. The gunman was wearing all blue, he said.
“He just turned and started firing,” Mr Brundidge said.
Navy officer Tim Jirus told reporters a co-worker was shot in the head just a metre away from him.
While struggling to understand what was going on, a man from the base’s maintenance department spoke to Mr Jirus.
“He walked up and told me he heard there was a shooter in our building. We were just standing here maybe three feet away having a conversation and we heard two more gunshots and he went down. That’s when I ran,” Mr Jirus said.
“I’m fairly certain he was dead because he was shot in the head.”
Alexis was using the ID of a man who used to work at the Navy Yard, NBC News reported. The news outlet said he was a civilian contractor who was identified through his fingerprints.
Police arrested the man whose ID was used but are yet to determine if he is an innocent victim or if he was connected to the shooter.
Alexis was a former reservist who had won the National Defence Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
The Washington Post said Alexis grew up in Brooklyn with his mother, Sarah, and father, Anthony Alexis, according to his aunt Helen Weeks.
“We haven’t seen him for years,” Ms Weeks told the paper in a telephone interview. “I know he was in the military. He served abroad. I think he was doing some kind of computer work.”
The paper reported that Alexis spent nearly four years in the Navy as a full-time reservist from May 2007 until he was discharged in January 2011. The reason for his discharge was not immediately known.
DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier said police response had been outstanding and hailed those first responders as “heroes.”
“The action of the police officers helped reduce the number of dead,” she said.
Ms Lanier said that police were still looking at the prospect that their may have been one additional shooter. He is described as African American, aged between 40-50, with gray sideburns and dressed in a military style uniform. Police had ruled out another Caucasian man, around the same age, who was also dressed in a naval-type uniform.
- Washington DC Navy Yard Shooter ID’ed As Aaron Alexis (hiphopwired.com)
- 12 killed in Washington Navy Yard shooting (newsherald.com)
- Ten People Shot at Washington Navy Yard, Gunman Remains at Large (Updates) (washingtonian.com)
- Shooting at US navy base (theage.com.au)