Kojo talks with author Colson Whitehead about his new novel "The Underground Railroad" and its resonance at this particular moment in history.
Gunmen have reportedly shot multiple people at the Navy Yard in Southeast D.C. The shooting has drawn hundreds of police officers from various jurisdictions and temporarily halted outgoing flights at nearby Reagan National Airport. WAMU reporter Armando Trull joins Kojo to update the situation.
- Armando Trull Senior News Reporter, WAMU 88.5
MR. KOJO NNAMDI...we're looking at right now, Armando.
MR. ARMANDO TRULLWell, right now it is still very tense. I can tell you, I was standing next to a group of police officers. You can hear the helicopter overhead.
TRULLThere is still a sniper right -- sitting at the door of that helicopter. I was standing next to a police officer when I heard a radio transmission. The radio transmission clearly described the gunman in, dressed in black, carrying a shotgun. Minutes later, I heard another radio transmission from the officers. Officer down. Officer down. Officer down. Then, they noticed that I was there and they hustled me away.
TRULLWe have been able to confirm from multiple news sources that at least one police officer was shot. We don't know what that police officer's condition is. As I said, the building is still under lockdown. There are thousands of people that are still inside. They have not been allowed to leave, and a two block perimeter around here, so even though it appears that, perhaps, the situation, that the gunmen have been contained, or at least one of them killed, perhaps both of them.
TRULLOr, one detained, one killed. This is still a very, very fluid situation, Kojo.
NNAMDIWe should point out that this is a local and federal story because the Washington Navy Yard is the oldest military installation in the nation. It's home to several major Navy commands and other office, including where Armando is right now, and that is the Naval Sea Systems Command, where about 3,000 workers are employed. And that's the largest of the Navy's five systems command. It's responsible for designing and engineering ship board weapons and command systems.
NNAMDIAnd as Armando is pointing out, the situation there is still very fluid. We don't know exactly what's going on, and we don't know exactly what's likely to happen next. You say a press conference is scheduled, Armando.
TRULLYes. We believe that a press conference will be held within the next 10 or 15 minutes. We believe D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier will be in that press conference. Perhaps some of the other police jurisdictions involved, because it has not only been D.C. police. US Park Police has been here. We've seen the FBI here. We've seen Homeland Security. And, of course, it's a military facility, so, perhaps, military officials will also be speaking.
TRULLNow, what would make this extraordinary, Kojo, is if there is more than one shooter. Because one shooter, perhaps, could be tacked down to a person who is mentally unstable. Two people begins to point to some type of conspiracy. But again, at this point, we have not been able to confirm that there was more than one shooter. We expect to hear that within the coming minutes. And, I would like to say that there have been news reports that there was a similar situation going on in Bolling Air Force Base. That is not the case.
TRULLThat has been dismissed. It was either a hoax or misreported by some stations, but there is nothing going on, of this nature, other than here at the Navy Yard.
NNAMDINow we're understanding that public schools in the surrounding neighborhood are in lockdown. That the Navy Yard itself continues to be in lockdown. But, the reports indicate that this started at about 8:20 this morning, Armando, and the first reports were that three shots were fired. Is that your understanding?
TRULLYes, but I spoke to several people who managed to escape from the building, who did not want to be recorded. They told me that they first heard three -- they first a fire alarm. Then they heard some shots. And then, a multitude of shots. In fact, when I was speaking to one of these witnesses, that perhaps as many as ten people might have been hurt, he expressed no surprise. Because, in his words, he said I wouldn't be shocked, just because of the sheer volume of gun shots that I heard as I was exiting the building.
TRULLNow, a lot of the people here are military or former military, so this was a very orderly partial evacuation. At least the people who went to what are called muster areas, which are areas outside of the building, plus the people that we know are inside the building, sheltering in place until the all clear is sounded. As I said, that all clear has not been sounded. In fact, as late as 10:30, 10:45, we heard the alarm telling people to remain in place. And still, you know, hundreds of police officers throughout this two block perimeter, of which I can only see one section.
TRULLBut, I'm in front of the main gate, or as close to it as I can be.
NNAMDISpeaking of areas to which people can go, a reunification center has been established at National Stadium, parking lot B. That is at South Capitol and K Street Southeast, so people who are looking to reunite with friends or relatives, who are probably still under lockdown at the Navy Yard, can go to that reunification center. National Stadium, parking lot B. South Capitol and K Street Southeast. The US Navy is also saying that family members looking for any information about their loved ones can call 202-433-6151, or 202-433-9713.
NNAMDIArmando, this situation will surely continue to develop over the next few hours. What can we expect next? The press conference?
TRULLWell, certainly the press conference is going to happen. What we should get, whatever details police and investigators are going to share. Many times, they will not share everything they know. Obviously, this is going to be an ongoing investigation inside this building. Because with so many multiple shootings and possibly so many people killed, there is going to be all types of evidence gathering of that nature. Witnesses are going to be interviewed, as well. Not only the people who were evacuated from the building, but also the people in the building.
TRULLThe people that may have been taken to the hospital with non life threatening injuries. All of those people have to be interviewed. Then, of course, the background of the people involved. They're going to be looking into who they are and what could have possibly motivated them, and I'm saying them because we're hearing that it was more than one shooter. It hasn't been confirmed yet, but what motivated that one shooter or the shooters. So, all of these things are part of a huge puzzle that investigators are going to try to piece together.
TRULLBut, at this point, they don't even know how many pieces there are in the puzzle.
NNAMDIAnd another reason this may take some time is the variety of agencies that can be involved. At the beginning, of course, we mentioned this was both local and federal. But I guess down there, there is the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, FBI, ATF, US Capitol Police, I guess, are all there.
TRULLExactly. I think that it's gonna be a matter of where the shootings took place and who has the jurisdiction. Obviously, the perimeter and everything outside the perimeter would be controlled by D.C. police, because outside of the gates of the Navy Yard, it is District property. But, because these shootings happened inside federal property, it could very well be a CSI investigation. And, again, depending on who's involved, I'm not going to speculate on who was involved, but if there is any link to the military, of the people involved, then you would definitely have military authorities involved in the case.
TRULLAnd we do not know that for a fact. We don't know anything about who was involved in the shooting. But, it's all gonna depend on who the shooters were, where it happened, and, of course, at the end of the day, the person with the biggest clout is going to decide who will have jurisdiction in this case. And, at this point, it's hard to say who that's gonna be.
NNAMDIWAMU, 88.5 reporter Armando Trull, on the scene at the Washington Navy Yard where those shootings took place this morning. And, Armando, thank you so much for joining us. We will be continuing to keep watch on this situation as it develops.
TRULLAll right, Kojo, I wish I could say it was my pleasure, but this is the kind of story no one wants to cover.
NNAMDIExactly right. We're going to take a short break. When we come back, how body language can translate into success at the work place. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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