Victims all white except one
One of the first teams of heavily armed police to respond to Monday’s shooting in Washington DC was ordered to stand down by superiors, the BBC can reveal.
A tactical response team of the Capitol Police, a force that guards the US Capitol complex, was told to leave the scene by a supervisor instead of aiding municipal officers.
The Capitol Police department has launched a review into the matter.
Aaron Alexis, 34, killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard.
“I don’t think it’s a far stretch to say that some lives may have been saved if we were allowed to intervene,” a Capitol Police source familiar with the incident told the BBC.
Assault weapons ready
- Defence subcontractor IT worker who had a valid pass for Navy Yard
- Full-time US Navy reservist from 2007-11, ranked petty officer 3rd class
- Said to have been Buddhist convert, had gun-related brushes with law in 2004 and 2010
- Reportedly suffered from sleeplessness, paranoia and hearing voices
A former Navy reservist, Alexis was working as a technical contractor for the Navy and had a valid pass and security clearance allowing him entry to the highly secure building in south-east Washington DC.
About 8:15 local time (12:15 GMT), Alexis entered Building 197, headquarters for Naval Sea Systems Command, which builds and maintains ships and submarines for the Navy, and opened fire.
Armed with a shotgun and a pistol he took from a guard he had shot, he sprayed bullets down a hallway and fired from a balcony down on to workers in an atrium.
He fired on police officers who eventually stormed the building, and was later killed in the shootout.
Multiple sources in the Capitol Police department have told the BBC that its highly trained and heavily armed four-man Containment and Emergency Response Team (Cert) was near the Navy Yard when the initial report of an active shooter came in about 8:20 local time.
The officers, wearing full tactical gear and armed with HK-416 assault weapons, arrived outside Building 197 a few minutes later, an official with knowledge of the incident told the BBC.
‘A different outcome’
According to a Capitol Police source, an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Washington DC’s main municipal force, told the Capitol Cert officers they were the only police on the site equipped with long guns and requested their help stopping the gunman.
When the Capitol Police team radioed their superiors, they were told by a watch commander to leave the scene, the BBC was told.
The gunman, Aaron Alexis, was reported killed after 09:00.