- The Washington Times
Thursday, July 2, 2015

Amid threats of terrorist activity during the Fourth of July weekend, D.C. police and federal law enforcers swarmed the Washington Navy Yard on Thursday morning after receiving a report of gunfire at the Southeast facility, where a gunman killed 12 workers two years ago.

After a three-hour shutdown of the Navy Yard and its environs, authorities said there was no evidence of a shooter or a shooting, but added that the incident served as a good test to apply lessons learned from the 2013 massacre.

“Having spent a lot of time doing the after-action [report] from the first incident at the first Navy Yard, it appears that all the things we tried to correct and make go better went very, very well — a very smoothly, well-coordinated response,” Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said during a late-morning news conference at the Navy Yard. “[We’re] very happy this turns out to be a great exercise for us to see that we fixed what we wanted to fix, and nobody is hurt, and no evidence of any shots fired.”

SEE ALSO: Washington Navy Yard: No injuries cited, no evidence of active shooter

Chief Lanier said that within 20 minutes of receiving a 7:29 a.m. report of gunshots at the Navy Yard, she was monitoring the situation in a unified command center with leaders and representatives of the Navy and federal law enforcement agencies, which included the FBI, U.S. Park Police, U.S. Capitol Police, U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Unlike the 2013 response, “officers were able to access the gates and get in immediately,” and radio communication was established between the command center and officers and federal agents in the field, the police chief said.

By 10 a.m., the Metropolitan Police Department confirmed that officers had completed a search of the building where the report was made and that there was “no evidence of a shooting or injured personnel.”

SEE ALSO: July 4 terrorist attack on U.S. soil a legitimate threat, officials warn

D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services officials also reported that there were no injuries, and that all employees had been accounted for. It wasn’t clear what prompted the report of a shooter; workers who were evacuated said they hadn’t heard any shots.

“We look forward to finding out that all of partners responded as they should have,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said at the news conference. “The chief of police will convene an after-action meeting to see how everybody responded.”

Vice Adm. Dixon Smith, commander of Navy Installations Command, said he looks forward to the post-incident evaluation, and expressed gratitude for the rapid action taken Thursday.

“I’d like to thank the mayor and the police chief and all the first responders for your quick response this morning,” Adm. Smith said at the news conference. “We’ve learned a lot over the last couple of years. We’ve exercised hard. We’re going to review this again to see what went right and what we can improve upon.”

Mark Woods, a Navy Yard employee, told WUSA-TV that an alarm went off in the building where he was working shortly after 7:30 a.m. Thursday. Employees were told to shelter in place, and then police entered and evacuated the workers. He said he hadn’t heard any shots and didn’t know what was happening.

“We thought maybe it was a drill,” he said.

The incident unfolded in the same Building 197, the headquarters of Naval Sea Systems Command, where gunman Aaron Alexis murdered 12 and wounded three others before he was killed by police two years ago.

After the mass shooting, Building 197 was closed for renovations. The more than 2,700 employees who worked in the building were relocated and returned to the site — renamed the Joshua Humphreys Building — in February.

Adm. Smith said chaplains and counselors were brought in Thursday to talk to NavSea workers evacuated from Building 197.

• Dave Boyer and Jacqueline Klimas contributed to this report.

• Carleton Bryant can be reached at cbryant@washingtontimes.com.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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