A Pentagon police officer was stabbed during a burst of violence at a transit centre outside the building, and a suspect was shot by law enforcement and died at the scene, according to the Pentagon.
The Pentagon, the US military’s headquarters, was temporarily placed on lockdown after an officer was attacked on a bus platform shortly after 10:30 a.m. The following Tuesday. The ensuing violence, which included a barrage of gunshots, resulted in “several casualties,” according to Woodrow Kusse, chief of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, which is in charge of security at the facility.
The officer and suspect’s deaths were first confirmed by officials who were not authorised to speak publicly about the incident and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. The Fairfax County Police Department also expressed their condolences on the officer’s death via Twitter. According to officials, two bystanders were injured.
Multiple law enforcement officials identified the suspect as Austin William Lanz, 27, of Georgia.
According to two law enforcement officials, the officer was ambushed by Lanz, who ran at him and stabbed him in the neck. Officers on the scene then shot and killed Lanz. Investigators were still trying to figure out why Lanz carried out the attack and were looking into his background, including any history of mental illness or any reason he might have wanted to target the Pentagon or police officers.
The officials could not speak publicly about the investigation and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity.
Lanz enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in October 2012, but was “administratively separated” less than a month later and never earned the title Marine, according to the Corps.
The incident on a busy stretch of the Washington area’s transportation system jangled the nerves of a region already on high alert for violence and potential intruders outside federal government buildings, especially after the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.
At a Pentagon news conference, Kusse refused to confirm the officer’s death or provide even basic information about how the violence occurred or how many people were killed. He would only say that an officer was assaulted and that “gunfire was exchanged.”
Kusse and other officials refused to rule out terrorism or offer any other possible explanation. Kusse, on the other hand, stated that the Pentagon complex was secure and that “we are not actively looking for another suspect at this time.” He stated that the FBI was in charge of the investigation.
“I can’t jeopardise the ongoing investigation,” Kusse explained.
The FBI only confirmed that it was investigating and that there was “no ongoing threat to the public,” but it did not provide any additional information or speculate on a possible motive.
Later Tuesday, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency issued a statement confirming the officer’s death, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed his condolences and said flags would be flown at half-staff at the Pentagon.
“This fallen officer died in the line of duty, assisting in the protection of the tens of thousands of people who work in and visit the Pentagon on a daily basis,” Austin said in a statement. “Today’s tragic death serves as a stark reminder of the risks they face and the sacrifices they make. We will be eternally grateful for that service and the courage with which it was performed.”
The incident on Tuesday occurred on a Metro bus platform that is part of the Pentagon Transit Center, which serves as a hub for subway and bus lines. The station is located just steps away from the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington.
An Associated Press reporter standing near the building heard multiple gunshots, then a pause, followed by at least one more shot. Another AP reporter overheard police yelling “shooter.”
The facility was put on lockdown, according to a Pentagon announcement, but it was lifted after noon, except for the area around the crime scene.
At the time of the shooting, Austin and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were in the White House with President Joe Biden. Austin returned to the building, according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, and went to the Pentagon police operations centre to speak with officers there.
It was unclear whether any additional security measures would be implemented in the area.
In 2010, a gunman approached two Pentagon Force Protection Agency officers at a security screening area and shot them. The officers who escaped fired back, fatally wounding the gunman, identified as John Patrick Bedell.