The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
3 dead, including suspect, in Quantico shooting
By RUSTY DENNEN
Authorities at Marine Corps Base Quantico moved onto the grim task of notifying next-of-kin in the wake of a double shooting and suicide at the base Thursday night.
In what the base commander termed a “tragic loss” for the Marine Corps, a staff member at Quantico’s Officer Candidates School shot an killed a male colleague and a female staffer before turning the gun on himself.
It was the second blow to the Marines in less than a week. On Monday, an accidental mortar-shell explosion killed seven Marines and injured a half-dozen more at Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada.
Names of those shot at Quantico haven’t been released, pending notification of relatives. No motive for the shootings has been given.
It all began, officials said, around 10:30 p.m. with an emergency call to the base Provost Marshal’s office.
The sprawling base, in Stafford, Prince William and a small part of Fauquier County, then activated its Giant Voice emergency-notification system around 11 p.m. The base was put on Threat Condition Delta, the highest state of alert for U.S. military bases, and residents and employees were instructed to stay indoors.
The first reports that it involved an on-base shooting came from the base website around 11:50 p.m.; by then, Prince William County police were also involved.
An initial report said a lone shooter had barricaded himself in a building, which later turned out to be the Taylor Hall barracks used by the Officer Candidates School.
After ambulances arrived and the bodies were removed, more grisly details emerged: a male victim had been found dead in the barracks common area, followed by the gunman and a woman. All were said to be members of the OCS junior enlisted staff. No other injuries were reported.
The base, about 26 miles north of Fredericksburg, is also home to the FBI’s training academy. In 2010, Quantico was one of several targets of an ex-Marine reservist who, during five nighttime shootings, fired on military targets including the Pentagon.
In a Friday morning press conference, Col. David W. Maxwell, the base commander, at one point choking back tears, expressed sorrow for the the loss of three Marines, and for their families, friends and colleagues.
“We ask for your patience as we conduct a thorough investigation into this incident,” he said, adding, “I anticipate a lengthy investigation.”
He said the base and chaplains are providing counseling.
“As we take care of our Marines and their families who are dealing with this tragedy, I would ask the support of our neighbors, and their thoughts and prayers as well for our Marines and families”
Comments on the base Facebook page began early, and continued throughout the day.
This one was typical: April Kearchner of Fort Lewis, Washington, wrote: “Praying for the families and all involved. That’s all that needs to be said at this time.”
And there were others like this one: “My son is presently serving there!!! So worried!!!”
Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431
PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
Col. David Maxwell, commander Marine Corps Base Quantico, at 7 a.m. press conference on shootings at Taylor Hall, a barracks used by the Officers Candidate School on the base:
“It’s been a long night as we have begun to deal with the tremendous loss that happened last night…I want to express my sincere condolences to the family and friends of the three Marines that we lost last night. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time. This is truly a tragic loss again for the Marine Corps, which has had a number of tragic losses in the last couple of weeks.”
Thursday evening’s fatal shooting was confined to Taylor Hall, a single barracks at Officers Candidate School. The quick reaction of our Provost Office and the Prince William County Police enabled to assess the extent of the situation and act quickly to resolve it. The shooter, an active duty Marine, was pronounced dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound by law enforcement at the scene. Two other victims, a male and female, both active duty Marines were pronounced dead at the scene.
The three Marines involved in this incident were all permanent personnel assigned to Officers Candidate School. All of the candidates in the school are accounted for and safe and all of the other permanent personnel as well…”
The identity of the victims themselves will be withheld for the next 24 hours or until the primary next of kin have been notified.
At 10:30 p.m. a 911 call was received by the provost marshal’s office. Within five minutes of notification authorities were on the scene. Authorities did not report hearing any shot or firing any shot. By 11 p.m. Quantico security had been heightened and the mass notification via the giant voice notification system began to pass instruction to base residents and employees…
At 2:30 a.m., the restrictions were lifted and the base returned to normal operations.
Additionally… there were some comments that have been in the press about a standoff, or about barricades… That was not the situation. There was not a standoff or barricades.”
Maxwell said he anticipates “a thorough investigation” of the incident. Base chaplins are providing counseling support to base personnel and officer candidates.