Washington Yard shooting: Indian-American among 12 killed

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - 09:42

Washington: Indian-American Vishnu Pandit was among the 12 individuals killed by a gunman at a highly secure Navy Yard in the American Capital, the latest in the series of mass shootouts in the US in the last few years.

In all 12 people - mostly military contractors - were killed when the gunman, himself a defence contractor from Fort Worth in Texas, went on a shooting rampage inside the Washington Navy Yard yesterday.

The gunman, Aaron Alexis, also died in the shootout.

The Washington Metropolitan Police yesterday released the names of seven of those who were killed in the shootout, with one of them being an Indian-American ? 61-year-old Pandit.

The other six identified were Michael Arnold, 59; Sylvia Frasier, 53; Kathy Gaarde, 62; John Roger Johnson, 73; Frank Kohler, 50; and Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46.

No other details were immediately known about Pandit, except that he was a defence contractor.

US President Barack Obama condemned the shooting at Washington`s Navy Yard as a "cowardly act".

Later, Obama issued a proclamation in the honour of those who died in the shooting and ordered that the national flag be flown at half-mast. He also cancelled a musical evening scheduled at the White House.

Obama, who personally monitored the developments, called FBI director James Comey to get an update on the status of the investigations.

The FBI has sought information about Alexis, which it believes was responsible for the massacre.

"Alexis` place of birth is Queens, New York, and his last known residence was Ft Worth, Texas," the FBI said in a statement.

Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray said the motives of the shooter were not yet known.

"We don`t know what the motive is at this stage. We`ll continue to seek information about what the motive is, but we don`t have any reason at this stage to suspect terrorism, but certainly it has not been ruled out," Gray said.

He said yet another person is being looked out at.

"There is still yet another person who was identified earlier. That was a person in the video who was wearing a drab olive uniform, around 50 years of age, around 5`10", African-American man, and we are continuing to look for him to determine what if any involvement he may have had," he said.

According to officials, Alexis left Texas about a year ago. He is believed to have entered the Navy Yard with a valid badge and had been in the Washington region for about four months. He worked as an hourly employee with a defence contractor.

According to biographical data provided by the Navy, Alexis had been in the Navy as a full-time reservist from May 2007 to January 2011, and left as a petty officer third class.

The shooting is believed to have been started around 8-15 am (local time) yesterday.

Immediately after the shooting, several buildings in the area were locked down and security was enhanced around the White House, the Pentagon and the US Capitol.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Alexis held a secret security clearance through his employer, The Experts, which had rehired him in July to work on a project at the Navy facility.

"I don`t know if it was his first day on the job or what but we are trying to figure it out," The Experts CEO, Thomas Hoshko, was quoted as saying by the daily.

"We were just as shocked as anyone," he added.

Hoshko said that Alexis had held a government-approved secret security clearance since 2007 and had his own military contractor identification card.

The FBI said that he gained access to the Navy Yard with a valid pass obtained as part of his contractor work.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - 09:39

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