Family members embrace after the shooting at the US Navy Yard in Washington. (AP)
Washington, Sept. 17 (PTI): An Indian-American defence contractor was among 12 people killed by a lone gunman who was shot down after he went on a shooting rampage at the high-security Washington Navy Yard.
The Metropolitan Police in Washington released the names of seven persons who were killed in the shootout. One of them was 61-year-old Vishnu Pandit.
The other six were: Michael Arnold, 59; Sylvia Frasier, 53; Kathy Gaarde, 62; John Roger Johnson, 73; Frank Kohler, 50; and Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46.
Twelve people, mostly contractors, were killed when 34-year-old Aaron Alexis went on a shooting rampage inside the Navy Yard yesterday.
“We now have a total of 13 fatalities, including the shooter,” the Washington DC mayor, Vincent Gray, told reporters at a news conference.
“We don’t know what the motive is at this stage. 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,” Gray said.
According to officials, Alexis left Texas about a year ago. He is believed to have entered the Navy Yard with a valid badge and had been in the Washington region for about four months. He worked as an hourly employee with a defence contractor.
According to biographical data provided by the navy, Alexis was a full-time reservist from May 2007 to January 2011 and left as a third class petty officer.
Investigators turned their attention today to the motive behind the rampage.
“I’m astonished,” Zhaohua Zhoua, Pandit’s neighbour in North Potomac, was quoted as saying by the Washington Post.
Another neighbour, Mike Honig, said Pandit and his wife lived in the neighbourhood for at least 20 years. He described Pandit as “a very nice man with an Irish setter”.
Initially police said they were looking for two more suspects but later it was confirmed that there was just one shooter. Authorities said Alexis was killed after an encounter with security. They gave no other details.
He was reportedly armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
FBI official Valerie Parlave asked public to share any information they might have about the suspect.