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At Least 13 Dead in D.C. Mass Shooting

Aired September 16, 2013 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Jake Tapper outside the Washington Navy Yard. Welcome to THE LEAD.

We want to continue with the press conference at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

JANIS ORLOWSKI, MEDSTAR WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: That gentleman is currently in surgery. He's been in surgery for several hours. We expect that surgery to continue. He is the gentleman who has gunshot wounds to his lower extremities, so he is in surgery right now.

He's doing well. He is expected to make a good recovery. The two other individuals, first one I will tell you about is an individual who has a shoulder wound. She is in surgery right now. Expect her to be in surgery for a couple of hours.

We actually spoke with her beforehand. She's in very, very good spirits. She actually was ordering the doctors and nurses around. We told her that we were in charge here. So we -- joking with her about how she was doing. She's in good spirits, she's in surgery right now, and I expect her to have a full recovery.

The third individual will not have surgery. She's a very, very lucky young lady. She actually has an injury to her hand and to her head, but the bullet actually did not penetrate the skull, means it did not penetrate the bone, so she obviously has suffered a significant wound, but she will recover without surgery.

And we have done a couple of procedures to take care of her hand and her head. She's in very good spirits. Her parents are with her and she's doing well. So we have three victims of the Navy Yard shootings who are with us. They're doing well and I expect all three of them to make a full recovery.

Be happy to take any questions.

QUESTION: Do you expect to get any more patients?

ORLOWSKI: We have been in contact with the individuals at the Navy Yard, and although I will tell you that there's always a possibility as they're going through the building floor by floor, it does not appear at this time, because there's been so many hours in between -- it does not appear that we will be getting any more individuals who lived through this devastating gun shooting.

QUESTION: Were any of the fatalities brought here to the medical center?

ORLOWSKI: No, they weren't.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) challenges for the officer (OFF-MIKE)

ORLOWSKI: You know, we are concerned about that. The question was, do we see any challenges with the officer walking? We are concerned about that and, quite frankly, we are going to have to wait 24 hours and do an assessment at that time and have a clearer understanding of what his injuries are.

QUESTION: Since you do see a lot of gunshot victims here, how unusual is it for someone to be hit multiple times by a semiautomatic weapon and make a full recovery, as you're predicting?

ORLOWSKI: Well, as you said, we see a significant number of gunshot victims here at the hospital center, and I will tell you that between working with our partners that are the first-responders who are excellent at initial stabilization and then bringing them here, we actually are very, very successful in having people live through these multiple gunshot wounds. Not always.

There are a number of victims, but we're very good, very highly trained here, and I would tell you that we have an excellent record in recovery so we do see this. The other thing that I would mention to you is that we have a very close relationship with the military physicians. And it's not unusual that we have Navy or Army physicians who are rotating through MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

They work with us, they work in our trauma bay, and it's an opportunity for them to keep their skills up when they are in a non- combat situation. So we have a close and multi-year relationship with the military. So, unfortunately, we are providing care to some of their colleagues right now, but it is a group that we're used to working with.

QUESTION: Can you give us an idea as to the hospital's preparedness? Because this Washington level one trauma here, the hospital with a big national reputation, are you always prepared for this sort of thing?

ORLOWSKI: So the question is, is talk a little about our preparedness. Let me just start by saying we are prepared. We are prepared 24/7, 365 days a year. We are prepared. We are the go-to place. We are not only for trauma, but burn, our multiple other medical services, but we are always available.

I can tell you a little bit about our preparedness. We have a trauma team that is on site, always available, and they were here today, obviously, and we also, in our operating room, keep two rooms that are open in sort of a rotating fashion, so we have a room that's always open for general trauma and then we have a room that's open for orthopedic trauma.

We always also have orthopedic trauma available. We have all of the other specialties that you would need. So, for example, with the young woman who had the injury to her head, we had neurosurgery immediately available. So we're here, we're available. And as I had said earlier, we actually expected and had hoped, not because you hope that anyone is injured, but you hope that people survive. We had wanted to take care of many more people than we have so far.

QUESTION: Earlier, you said all three were in critical condition. Have any of those conditions changed?

ORLOWSKI: I would tell you that they're stable at this time. They are going through surgery. Two of the three are going through surgery, but they are in stable condition and we have had time to assess their injuries and to assess what their state is, what their medical condition is. I would tell you that all three are stable.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) complexity of the surgery that the officer is going through right now?

ORLOWSKI: The metropolitan police officer, for privacy, I don't want to go into too much detail, but I can tell you that there are multiple surgeons who are involved because there are injuries to the blood vessels, as well as to the bones, and so it's a complex surgery to repair his legs.

QUESTION: Have the victims been able to communicate with investigators?

ORLOWSKI: So I would tell you that all three of the victims came in talking. They came in, they were speaking from the get-go. I have actually personally have talked to all three of them. I will tell you that the police officer, when he came in, he was most concerned about being able to talk to his mother, and wanted to make sure that he was able to speak to her before he went into surgery.

You know, you always have to take care of mom. And the second individual very worried that we got ahold of her husband. Her husband is here. I have spoken to the two of them. She's the one who I was kidding around who has been giving orders. And the third individual actually, she -- her father went to the Navy Yard. I don't know where from. Her father went to the Navy Yard and found her, and he actually -- he did not come in the helicopter with her, but he actually made it to the Navy Yard and found his daughter, so a remarkable story.

QUESTION: Can you give us ages on these three individuals?

ORLOWSKI: You know what, I'm sorry, I don't have exact ages on them.

QUESTION: Did they talk about what happened at all? (OFF-MIKE)

ORLOWSKI: You know what, we don't bring up the incident as we're treating them. This is a horrific incident for them.

We -- if they want to talk, we talk with them, but we don't bring it up with them. I know the investigators did talk with them a little bit. I know that they had to answer questions for the investigators. But we're all about what can we do to get you healing and get things going? I would tell you that the most common question that I have heard from them is how their colleagues are doing. They actually have specific concerns and ask about different individuals. They're very worried about their colleagues. It's the only question that I have heard. It's the only conversation that I have heard about the incident.

QUESTION: So her father found her before the paramedics did?

ORLOWSKI: Oh, no, not before the paramedics. I think she was there and getting care, but he actually went to the scene and found her, so somehow, there was communication and he was at the scene. She was receiving medical care, but he made it to the Navy Yard.

QUESTION: You say they are asking about their colleagues. So all three are aware, or are they, that their colleagues have also, you know, suffered injuries, if not have been killed?

ORLOWSKI: Oh, we have not shared that with them.

And so I would tell you that two of them are undergoing surgery right now, and so two of them are in the operating room, they are under anesthesia. But I would tell you that we do not share information that we cannot verify, and at the time that they were coming in, there were so many reports as to the number of casualties and what was going on that that was not shared with them at that time.


ORLOWSKI: You know what, I don't know the department. I actually heard it from the secretary of the Navy, but not -- like supplies or something like that.

QUESTION: Were they civilians?

ORLOWSKI: I believe they're civilians. I believe they're civilians who work there.


ORLOWSKI: So, the gentlemen who were here with me were -- so there -- so Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, all of you knew, were speaking. The gentleman directly to his right was an Admiral Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations. So, that was an admiral with him.

And then I believe the gentleman directly to his right is an assistant secretary of the Navy, Sean Green (ph)? We will get you his name. We will get you his name.

QUESTION: Our next update might be when?

ORLOWSKI: I'm going to look at my public relations people and see if we're going to have an update tonight.

I will tell you -- let me tell you the stage that we're at right now. The individual who is not going to go to surgery, she's been brought up to a surgical bed and she needs to rest for the rest of the evening. The two that are undergoing surgery right now will go through a recovery and then they will -- again, a decision will be made whether they need to be in an intensive care unit or in a regular bed, and they will go to that place.

I don't expect that there will be anything other than recovery going on with these individuals. I will have our public relations group let you know if there's going to be another update. What I would tell you is we're about the business of getting them healed and back on their feet right now.

QUESTION: Doctor, can you talk about -- have the investigators taken some bullet fragments and other evidence that may have been present? Do they plan to also try to speak to some of these victims again after they're out of surgery?

ORLOWSKI: So the question is, was any evidence taken? And I'm not able to address that question. We're asked not to speak about any evidence.

And in regards to will they be interviewed, the answer is they absolutely will be interviewed further. That's initially a medical decision as to when they're stable to answer more questions. And I would suspect that all of them will be interviewed either later tonight or tomorrow.

QUESTION: Can you talk about the normal procedure that the hospital would follow in any shooting then and at what point the investigators would come to take some of that evidence?

ORLOWSKI: Sure. Sure. Absolutely.

So, under our normal procedure, what happens is -- and I have to say we're very collaborative working with MPD and the other officers that are within this region. They are very professional. When they come to MedStar Trauma, what they typically do is they will work with us and they will ask our permission if they can address the individual before they go to surgery.

If we say yes, they talk with the individual. If we say no, they wait until afterwards. I would just say that they are very professional, very specific. They get the information that they need, and then they will be back.

As far as chain of evidence, it's not unusual during a situation like this, where the police again will ask permission, but will take photographs if allowed. And then there's a chain of evidence in surgery where if a fragment or some evidence is removed, it will go through a chain of evidence, passing from the surgeon to the officers.

So that is a typical event that will occur. There's also -- and, again, we have a number of things that we have to watch, but respecting their privacy, there may be a need for the officers to examine their clothes. Oftentimes, there's bullet holes or wounds. So, again, with their permission, that would be another area that might be examined, might be photographed, or might be taken as evidence. So I would say that's a usual situation.

QUESTION: Earlier, you said there might be an indication of semiautomatic weapons having been used. Any indication of a shotgun?

ORLOWSKI: So I don't have any information yet regarding the type of gun that was used.

When I said earlier that it may have been semiautomatic, there was actually a comment made by one of the victims that they had heard multiple gunfire in a row, and they believed that there was some automatic or semiautomatic characteristic to it. So, again, it's a victim comment, not something that we would address right now.

QUESTION: Yes, we're told there may have been three weapons, AK-47, a shotgun, and a pistol.

ORLOWSKI: I have heard similar information. We're not ready to confirm anything.

QUESTION: Was the officer shot in one leg or both legs?


QUESTION: You and your staff see a lot of trauma, but is there anything about this event today (OFF-MIKE)

ORLOWSKI: You know what? We see a lot of trauma. And, you know, sometimes, it's -- sometimes, it's just, you know, accidents that occur that we get to help people with because they're accidents.

And then you see what I call senseless trauma. And there is -- there is something evil in our society that we, as Americans, have to work to try and eradicate.

I -- I have to say, I may see this every day. I may, you know, be the chief medical officer of a very large trauma center, but there's something wrong here when we --


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

You've been watching a live press conference at the Washington Hospital Center, where at least three of the victims of the horrific shooting at the Navy yard outside Washington -- In Washington, D.C., and we're right outside it right now, were shot earlier this morning.

We'll begin with some breaking news, as we have learned the identity of the suspect in the mass shooting here.

I want to bring in right now CNN justice reporter Evan Perez.

Evan, what can you tell us? Who is this man?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: His name is Aaron Alexis. He is a former Navy man, former military man. Thirty-four years old, originally apparently from Texas, and the feds are still looking at what the motivation is for this.

The going theory right now is perhaps that it's a workplace shooting, something he was unhappy about, and had some beef with people who work there or perhaps in the Navy right now. The FBI is still focusing on that issue.

TAPPER: He's a contractor, right? Is that --

PEREZ: He is -- he worked with a contractor, a military contractor, that may have had access to the facility. And so, right now, they still don't know exactly how he made his way in, but one of the things they're working on, one of the theories they're working on, is that through his military contractor access, he was able to either be waved in or, you know, made his way in some other way.

TAPPER: Because it is a secure location, difficult to get in. The members of the public cannot just get in.

PEREZ: That's right. That's right.

TAPPER: I want to go back to the press conference with the mayor of Washington, D.C.


I'm joined at this press briefing by Chief Cathy Lanier of our Metropolitan Police Department, the district director of the FBI, Valerie Parlave, who is with us as well, Chief Teresa Chambers of the park police, and the person who represents the District of Columbia in the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Let me first of all say again, we all know this is a horrific tragedy, certainly one of the worst in recent memory, and certainly I don't know if we can ever remember anything quite like this here in the city. We know these kinds of things have happened in other places and other cities in America, but nothing like this here in the District of Columbia.

Let me begin by saying that my heart, like that of our entire administration, goes out to the families, those who have been victimized, who left home to go to work this morning thinking they were going to, you know, work on behalf of our nation, working at the Navy yard, working for the navy, only to have something horrific like this to occur.

Secondly, I want to thank all the first responders, all the law enforcement agencies and all the dozens, the hundreds of people who have done such a sterling job today to deal with this horrific tragedy.

I'll be followed by Chief Lanier, then Valerie Parlave, Chief Chambers, if she chooses to speak, then Congresswoman Norton.

First of all, I think you know earlier today we talked about the possibility of there being two other suspects, one of those has been ruled out. That gentleman has been identified and is no longer a suspect. He's been talked to by law enforcement officials and there's no reason to continue any views that he may have been involved in this.

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 who we are continuing to look for him to determine what if any involvement he may have had.

There are many people who have asked us whether we think that there's terrorism involved in this. We don't know what the motive is at this stage. We'll -- obviously, 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.

We now have a total of 13 fatalities, including the shooter. We had one additional since we last convened, one of the victims who died at a hospital as a result of the wounds that he suffered. We have not -- we don't even know most of us ourselves the identities of the victims at this stage, so we have no information to offer about that. And, of course, we would not do that until we have been able to assure that their families, their loved ones, have been notified. So those who may have questions about the identity of the victims, there's nothing that we can offer in that regard at this point.

Two other pieces of information, I'll ask Chief Lanier to come up. First of all, we want to urge once again the people who live in this area to stay out of the area. There is absolutely no reason to come down here, especially since we continue to seek information about the person that I mentioned earlier, to try to rule in or rule out his involvement in this horrific incident.

And then, finally, for those who asked, many have asked us about the Washington Nationals baseball game this evening. That has been postponed, and has been rescheduled for 1:00 tomorrow. I guess they'll play a doubleheader, 1:00 tomorrow, then 7:05 tomorrow evening.

So with that information as an update, let me ask Chief Lanier to come up and provide some additional input.


As the mayor indicated, this is still a very active law enforcement scene, so there's still a lot of activity going on. We do realize that we still have to move people through the city and around the city. It is now rush hour, approaching rush hour.

As of right now, I can say in terms of traffic flow, we want to keep people obviously as far away from the area where we're actively investigating as possible, but we have now opened 295, 395 and 695. We are asking people to avoid the area around the Nats Park and also that M Street will remain closed from south capitol to 11th Street southeast. So those are the areas right now we're asking people to avoid. This is still an ongoing investigation. We are continuing to ask our residents in communities and businesses in the immediate area to shelter in place, and avoid the areas mentioned until we finish doing what we have to do. We are hoping in the next couple of hours to have information one way or the other on whether we can conclusively say we have all suspects or persons involved in this accounted for.

There are some additional updates that have been going out in terms of the person that has been identified as a shooter in this case. That information will be shared by the FBI. We are still asking for any information from the public. We have given contact information which I'm sure the FBI will repeat, but still, anybody who has information, to pass on, please continue to pass it along to the FBI in this case as we are continuing to investigate.

So, with that said, I will turn it over to Val and let her give you the update on the suspect we do know.

REPORTER: Your name, please?

VALERIE PARLAVE, ASST. DIRECTOR IN CHARGE, D.C. FBI FIELD OFFICE: Valerie Parlave, the assistant director in charge of the Washington field office of the FBI. P-A-R-L-A-V-E.

We can confirm the deceased shooter from this morning has been identified as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis of Ft. Worth, Texas. We have posted photographs of Mr. Alexis on our Web site,, and we ask anyone with information about him to contact us at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

No piece of information is too small. We are looking to learn everything we can about his recent movements, his contacts and his associates.

This remains a very active investigation. We currently have our evidence response team moving in to process the scenes where the shootings took place. We will also continue to run down every lead and we will continue to work together on this investigation with our law enforcement partners. Again, we ask the public to look at the photos of the deceased shooter and to contact the FBI with any and all information. Thank you.

REPORTER: Is there any indication --

GRAY: Can you hold the questions until we get to the finish? OK, thank you.


CHIEF TERESA CHAMBERS, PARK POLICE: Thank you for the opportunity just to say that what you're seeing here is the teamwork that goes into every law enforcement and public safety enterprise here in the D.C. area every day, and as you'll learn over the days, the heroism of a number of different entities and their officers did make a difference in today's outcome. And as the story unfolds, we'll learn more and be able to share more with you. Thank you. DEL. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), WASHINGTON, DC: I've just come from the House of Representatives. It's not on lockdown. I understand the Senate is on lockdown. Of course, the House is not in session today.

When the House reconvenes tomorrow, I will lead a moment of silence for yet another heartbreak in our city for the victims and their families.

We take an attack on a federal facility in our city personally. It's an attack not just on that facility. It's an attack on our city. It's an attack on our country.

I do want to say that the facility itself is one of the most secure facilities in the District of Columbia. We have a long relationship with the Naval Sea Systems Command since we worked to bring it to its present location which started the revival of the entire industry corridor, which is now a thriving --

TAPPER: We are going to lose -- I've lost IFP.

Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

I'm standing here with the man who used to have the job that Valerie Parlave, who is assistant director in charge of the Washington field office for the FBI, had, Shawn Henry.

Shawn, give us a breakdown of what the FBI is doing right now. They have identified the dead shooter. He is 34-year-old Aaron Alexis of Ft. Worth, Texas. They put pictures of him on the Web site. The evidence response team is going into the scene of the crime.

What is the job of the FBI right now?

SHAWN HENRY, FORMER EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FBI: Well, first and foremost, they want to make sure public safety is intact. They will be looking to make sure there are no other shooters, there's no other co-conspirators that were working with Alexis. The way they'll do that is they'll start, after they identify him, go out and interview people that know him, relatives, associates, business colleagues.

They'll look to execute search warrants on his residence and his vehicle. They'll probably serve judicial documents to get his cell records and to get some of his electronic media, maybe computers and those sorts of things. Because what you really want to do is expand the scope and make sure there are no other co-conspirators so that you can assure there are no other plots.

We have seen historically with some of the terrorist incidents in the past that there have been multiple plots scheduled on the same day in coordination. We want to make sure that that's certainly not the case here.

TAPPER: The chief of police, Cathy Lanier, here in Washington, D.C., last time she spoke identified two other possible suspects, one African-American or one black, I should say, we don't know his country of origin, one black, one white. She has since said that the white individual, they have identified him, he is not a person of interest.

We are going to go back to the press conference right now, I'm told. Stay with us.

GRAY: We'll just have to take time.

REPORTER: Earlier, you told me that you had four wounded. Now you have 13 dead. Does that mean you have three wounded? What are the total number of casualties.

GRAY: There's 13 people who are dead, and then there are probably a dozen or more who are wounded. But again, we're not prepared to say what all the reasons are. Some of them may have been hurt, if I can put it that way, for reasons other than being shot. We'll release that information as we know fully what it is.

Yes, Patrick?

REPORTER: So just to confirm, is there a second gunman on the loose right now? And how concerned --

GRAY: We don't -- we don't know that there's a second gunman on the loose. We know there was a person who was identified very early in this process, in fact, there were two. One of them has been ruled out. The other person has certainly not been ruled --

TAPPER: We just lost IFP.

GRAY: I don't think we're prepared to -- there's a lot of questions that are associated with this investigation at this stage that are best left unanswered, one, because we may have only partial information or they may affect the outcome of the investigation.

REPORTER: Do you know whether the gunman took his own life? Or --

GRAY: No, I don't think so.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was engaged and shooting with police officers.