POLITICS

Navy Commander Describes 'Running For My Life' As Man Killed Next To Him

09/16/2013 03:52 pm ET | Updated Sep 16, 2013

WASHINGTON -- It sounded like someone fired off a cap gun at first -- one, then two, then eventually four shots from within the fourth floor of Building 197 on Monday morning. Nothing too alarming.

But minutes later, after a fire alarm went off and the building had been evacuated for what seemed like a typical fire drill, Navy Cmdr. Tim Jirus was outside in an alleyway running for his life, as the man beside him was shot in the head.

"He dropped in front of me," Jirus told reporters outside the Navy Yard in Southeast D.C. "I took off after that."

Twelve people have been confirmed dead as a result of the Navy Yard shootings. One shooter has been killed, and police are still seeking another individual as a possible suspect; police have determined a third individual who had been sought for questioning was not involved.

Jirus said he didn't know if the shooter on the fourth floor of his building was the same person who later shot the man next to him in the alley. He said he never saw the shooter, though the shots came from above and sounded like they were coming from a handgun.

"I heard the gunshots, and I tried to figure out where they were coming from," he said. "Then I looked down and he was lying in front of me."

Jirus, who spoke calmly and articulately despite having witnessed a horrific scene hours earlier, said he's been in the Navy for 25 years and is used to training for combat operations overseas. He said he's seen dead people before, and it's something that's not shocking to him.

Monday's shootings were different, however.

"Seeing somebody die in front of you, here where you work at, is more of a relationship of you talking to God or you realizing just how fragile life is," he said. "To hear gunshots and realize you were that close to being shot, it makes me like life a lot today. I'm going to hug my kids the next time I see them and have a good day."

Asked about the security of the Navy Yard, Jirus said it's always been tight. People need an ID to get onto the base, and then another ID to get into buildings like his. He said he didn't understand how someone could have gotten into his building with so many weapons. Reports suggest the building shooter had at least one handgun and one long gun, either an assault weapon or a shotgun.

"If you had asked me about [the base's security] at 8 a.m. this morning, I would have said it was very secure," Jirus said. "At 8:30 a.m., when I'm running for my life, it's a completely different answer."

Jirus spoke to reporters a little longer, then said he wanted to return to his building for his next task: figuring out the identity of the man who had been shot just feet away from him.

"I feel horrible. I don't know who the man is," he said. "I want to get back on base to figure out who he is."

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Navy Yard Shooting

09/17/2013 6:14 PM EDT

There Have Been More Mass Shootings Since Newtown Than You've Heard About (INFOGRAPHIC)

When 13 people died in a shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, the story made front page news. But many of the mass shootings that have happened since the December massacre of elementary school students and teachers in Newtown, Conn., didn't.

Click here to read more.

09/17/2013 5:09 PM EDT

Aaron Alexis Was At Gun Range The Day Before Navy Yard Shooting

The Associated Press reports:

Michael Slocum, an attorney for a Virginia gun store, said in an email that Aaron Alexis visited Sharpshooters Small Arms Range on Sunday. He says Alexis rented a rifle, bought bullets and used the range. He then bought a shotgun and 24 shells.

Click here to read more.

09/17/2013 3:12 PM EDT

Alexis Was 'Determined To Kill As Many People As Possible'

WASHINGTON -- Alleged Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis acted alone and was "determined to kill as many people as possible," law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

Officials would not comment on Alexis' alleged motive during a press conference held Tuesday afternoon outside the FBI's Washington Field Office, but said they had determined he arrived in the area around Aug. 25 and had been staying at the Residence Inn in Southwest Washington, D.C. since Sept. 7.

The FBI is investigating "hundreds" of tips they have received Monday's shooting. "No piece of information is too small," said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave, asking for additional assistance from the public.

Metropolitan Police Officer Scott Williams is doing well and is expected to make a full recovery, according to MPD Chief Cathy Lanier. "We have a very good prognosis from the doctors, he does have serious injuries to his legs. Again, I know the officer and I know his personality, and I'm real confident he will not only walk again but probably will outrun most of us again," Lanier said.

09/17/2013 2:24 PM EDT

FBI: Alexis Only Had A Shotgun

Aaron Alexis entered Building 197 with only a shotgun in his possession, not an assault rifle like some media outlets reported. "We have no information that [Alexis] had an AR-15 assault rifle in his possession," the FBI's Valerie Parlave said in a press conference. "He may have gained access to a handgun ... and after he began shooting."

09/17/2013 2:22 PM EDT

FBI: Shotgun Used In Shooting Was Purchased Legally

09/17/2013 11:52 AM EDT

Aaron Alexis Got Honorable Discharge Despite Disorderly Conduct, Insubordination

Alexis was honorably discharged from the Navy in 2011 after bouts of insubordination, disorderly conduct and being absent from work without authorization.

The AP reports:

Officials said the bad conduct was enough to make it clear Alexis would not be a good sailor, but not enough to warrant a general or less-than-honorable discharge. They also did not involve criminal offenses, so did not trigger any court-martial proceedings.

Click here to read more.

09/17/2013 11:51 AM EDT

Victims' Names Released

Here's a complete list of the victims of yesterday's shooting:

Michael Arnold, 59

Martin Bodrog, 54

Arthur Daniels, 51

Sylvia Frasier, 53

Kathleen Gaarde, 62

John Roger Johnson, 73

Mary Francis Knight, 51

Frank Kohler, 50

Vishnu Pandit, 61

Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46

Gerald L. Read, 58

Richard Michael Ridgell, 52

Suspected gunman Aaron Alexis, 34, died as well.

09/17/2013 11:21 AM EDT

Recovering Victims Worried About Their Co-Workers

Dr. Janis Orlowski, chief medical officer at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, told the Associated Press that three victims in yesterday's shooting -- including a police officer who was shot in the legs -- are recovering and in fair or good condition. She said two women who saw others shot are "very worried about their co-workers," but are unaware of the extent of the shooting.

Click here for more.

09/17/2013 11:20 AM EDT

Schools Have Reopened

Schools near Navy Yard that were on lockdown after Monday's shooting have reopened on Tuesday, WJLA reports.

09/17/2013 9:25 AM EDT

District Of Columbia Holds Candlelight Vigil For Victims

"A dozen or so" people gathered for a candlelight vigil at D.C.'s Freedom Plaza last night, reports the Washington City Paper:

"How immune are we becoming to these senseless mass shootings?" Eddie Weingart, the vigil's organizer and the founder of Project End Gun Violence, asked the ceremony's participants, who were flanked by twice as many media members. "Mass shootings are becoming as American as apple pie and baseball."

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