QUANTICO, Va. (CBSDC/AP) — A Marine killed a male and female colleague before taking his own life in a double murder-suicide at Marine Base Quantico, officials said early Friday.
Military officials have not released a motive or the identities of those slain.
Authorities were called at the Marine Corps Base Quantico in northern Virginia around 10:30 p.m. Thursday and found one Marine dead in the Taylor Hall barracks, base commander Col. David W. Maxwell said. A second victim was found elsewhere in the barracks. The body of the gunman was also located in Taylor Hall.
It wasn’t immediately clear how much time passed between the killings or how far apart the bodies were found.
A base spokesman initially described the situation as a standoff. Maxwell said later in the morning that there was no standoff. Base spokesman Lt. Agustin Solivan later clarified that after the first shooting, police had the shooter “isolated” in a dorm room inside Taylor Hall at the base’s Officer Candidates School.
No names were immediately released but officials say all three were active duty Marines permanently assigned to the school.
Solivan said the shooting was isolated to the school and authorities were confident there were no other casualties.
Military police responded within five minutes of receiving a 911 call around 10:30 p.m., officials say. A short time later, around 11 p.m., the base was placed on lockdown as residents were warned over a loudspeaker to stay inside.
WNEW anchor Chas Henry, a former Marine Corps Captain, says the military police response is not unlike what one would find in a civilian community. Detectives from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) will come in and assist the military police in investigating.
The lockdown was lifted and the base returned to normal operations around 2:30 a.m. Friday.
The shooting is the second tragedy the Marine Corps has faced this week.
“It’s tough to lose a Marine in combat situation,” said Solivan. “It’s even tougher at home.”
Seven members of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force were killed Monday when a mortar shell exploded in its firing tube during an exercise at Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada. Eight others were injured.
“This is truly a tragic loss again for the Marine Corps,” said Maxwell.
Pentagon press secretary George Little said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was also saddened to learn of the shooting.
“This tragedy, as well as the tragedy in Nevada earlier this week, took the lives of Marines who volunteered to serve their nation,” Little said. “His heart and his prayers are with them and their families.”
The sprawling Quantico base, which is 37 miles south of Washington, is also home to the FBI’s training academy.
The officer candidates school’s 10-week program trains Marines in the classroom and uses endurance hikes and obstacle courses to evaluate leadership potential. Candidates must also demonstrate a grasp of battlefield-tested leadership traits, the Marine Corps website said.
When they graduate, the Marines become second lieutenants.
In 2010, the Quantico base was one of several targets of an ex-Marine reservist who, during five nighttime shootings, fired on military targets including the Pentagon. Yonathan Melaku, on two separate occasions, fired at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico. No one was injured and Melaku was ultimately sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Marine Base Quantico Background
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