WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — President Barack Obama is getting frequent briefings on a shooting at the Washington Navy Yard that has left at least six dead and wounded at least 10 others.
The White House says the president had several briefings about the unfolding situation by senior aides.
The Navy says shots were fired Monday morning at the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters, where about 3,000 people work. Navy officials tell The Associated Press that at least six people were killed. The gunman is also dead.
The Navy said in a statement that the active shooter was reported inside the building at 8:20 a.m. A “shelter in place” has been ordered for Navy yard personnel.
The White House says Obama directed his team to stay in touch with the Navy, FBI and local officials.
Obama would like “citizens to listen to the authorities and follow directions from the first responders on site,” a White House official told CBS News.
It wasn’t immediately clear how the shooter died, according to a Defense Department official and federal law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Two other officials have said police were looking into the possibility of a second shooter.
Witnesses described a gunman opening fire from the fourth floor, aiming down on people in the first-floor cafeteria. Others said a gunman fired at them in a third-floor hallway.
As witnesses emerged from the building, a helicopter hovered over the building, schools were on lockdown and airplanes at nearby Reagan National Airport were briefly grounded. Less than 2 miles away, security was beefed up at the Capitol, but officials said there was no known threat there. President Barack Obama was getting frequent briefings on the shooting.
About 3,000 people work at the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters, which builds, buys and maintains the Navy’s ships and submarines and combat systems.
“I’m deeply shocked and saddened by the shooting this morning at the Navy Yard,” Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. I have complete confidence in our first responders, and I continue to be completely focused on this very difficult situation.”
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,” Brundidge said.
Terrie Durham, an executive assistant with the same agency, said she also saw the gunman firing toward her and Brundidge.
“He aimed high and missed,” she said. “He said nothing. As soon as I realized he was shooting, we just said, ‘Get out of the building.'”
Rick Mason, a program management analyst who is a civilian with the U.S. Navy, said a gunman was shooting from a fourth floor overlook in the hallway outside his office. He said the gunman was aiming down at people in the building’s cafeteria on the first floor. Mason said he could hear the shots but could not see a gunman.
Shortly after the gunfire, Mason said someone on an overhead speaker told workers to seek shelter and later to head for the gates at the complex.
Patricia Ward, a logistics management specialist, said she was in the cafeteria and heard shots. They sounded like “pop, pop, pop,” she said. After a few seconds, there were more shots.
“Everybody just panicked at first,” she said. “It was just people running, running, running.”
Ward said security officers started directing people out of the building with guns drawn.
Police and federal agents from multiple law enforcement agencies responded. Ambulances were parked outside, streets in the area were closed and departures from Reagan National Airport were temporarily halted for security reasons.
Among the wounded was a D.C. police officer, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation.
A U.S. Park Police helicopter hovered over the building and appeared to drop a basket with a person onto the roof.
Officials at MedStar Washington Hospital Center said two shooting victims had been brought there.
District of Columbia schools officials said six schools and one administrative building in the vicinity of the Navy Yard were placed on lockdown. The action was taken out an abundance of caution, schools spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz said.
Naval Sea Systems Command is the largest of the Navy’s five system commands and accounts for a quarter of the Navy’s entire budget. It builds, buys and maintains the Navy’s ships and submarines and their combat systems.
The Navy Yard is part of a fast-growing neighborhood on the banks of the Anacostia River in southeast Washington, just blocks from Nationals Park and about 1 ½ miles southeast of the U.S. Capitol.
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