The shooter has been identified as Aaron Alexis, 34, a former Navy enlistee from Texas. Alexis reportedly used contractor status to gain access to the Navy Yard's southeastern quadrant Monday morning and open fire.
President Barack Obama, who was previously scheduled to speak on the fifth anniversary of the economic crisis, said, "These are men and women who were going to work, going their job protecting all of us. They’re patriots. And they know the dangers of serving abroad, but today they faced the unimaginable violence that they wouldn’t have expected here at home.
"So we offer our gratitude to the Navy and local law enforcement, federal authorities and the doctors who’ve responded with skill and bravery. I’ve made it clear to my team that I want the investigation to be seamless so that federal and local authorities are working together. And as this investigation moves forward, we will do everything in our power to make sure whoever carried out this cowardly act is held responsible.
"In the meantime, we send our thoughts and prayers to all at the Navy Yard who’ve been touched by this tragedy. We thank them for their service. We stand with the families of those who’ve been harmed. They’re gonna need our love and support.
"And as we learn more about the courageous Americans who died today, their lives, their families, their patriotism, we will honor their service to the nation they helped to make great. And obviously, we’re going to be investigating thoroughly what happened, as we do so many of these shootings, sadly, that have happened, and do everything that we can to try to prevent them."
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell also issued a statement regarding the shootings, saying, “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by today’s tragic shooting. Innocent lives have been lost. Families are in mourning. It is absolutely heartbreaking. All of Virginia’s law enforcement resources remain ready to assist authorities as the investigation moves forward. America is a nation of good and peaceful people. Horrendous, evil acts of violence will not shake our national unity and character. In the aftermath of this tragic day, I urge all Virginians to always remember to thank the brave law enforcement, first responders and military personnel in their communities for their dedicated and sacrificial service on our behalf."
Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) said, "My thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by today’s tragic shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. As we learn more about the horrific events that unfolded this morning, my deepest sympathies go out to the friends and families of the victims, as well as the surrounding community. I am thankful for the bravery of the first responders who put their lives on the line today, and every day.”
Local officials also weighed in - some with a little more outrage than others. Fairfax County's Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay issued a statement saying, "Again! How many more times will we be sending our condolences to those who've lost loved ones and our sympathies to survivors? And how many more times will parents lunge at the TV before their children see gruesome images?
"While we don't yet know what triggered this horrific event, we do know two things: 1) that we need much more available mental health services and 2) some modicum of sensible gun control."
Rev. Paul S. Loverde, the Bishop of Arlington, also issued a statement, saying, "I am deeply saddened by the horrible violence and tragic loss of life at the Washington Navy Yard today. I offer my prayers to the victims of the shooting, their families, those wounded, and all the NAVSEA employees affected by today’s tragedy.
"I ask the members of our diocesan family to do so as well. These senseless killings bring home to us yet again the violent age in which we live and the increasing disrespect for human life."
Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, posted the following message to Facebook: “I join people of all faiths across our community in praying for the people killed and wounded in the attack at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. I also pray for the family members and friends of the victims, as well as the first responders and emergency workers at the scene. While many facts are still unknown, our most powerful tool right now is prayer."
In the wake of Monday's horrific shooting, what would you most like to hear from our government officials? Tell us in the comments below.
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