Police officers at Pentagon shot

Two police officers at the Pentagon were wounded Thursday evening when a man walked up to the entrance of the complex’s subway station and, without a word, opened fire on them, Pentagon officials said.

Police officers quickly returned fire, fatally shooting the gunman after hitting him once in the head and once in the shoulder. The gunman was identified as John Patrick Bedell, 36, according to a police official here assisting with the investigation.

The injured police officers, whose names were not released, were wearing ballistic vests and were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to Richard S. Keevill, the Pentagon police chief.

Pentagon officials said late Thursday that the motive for the shooting remained unclear. One official said investigators also were trying to determine whether the gunman had acted alone. A police official said the gunman was seen on a surveillance video near the Pentagon talking to another man. But the official added that district police were informed almost immediately after the shooting that there was only one suspect.

The shooting took place around 6:40 p.m. at the entrance to the subway station across the street from the Pentagon building, which was the site of one of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

After that attack, new security measures were put in place at the Pentagon and part of the building was redesigned. Subway passengers are no longer permitted to exit directly into the Pentagon; they must be screened outside before entering the building.

Officials said the gunman approached the two officers at a security screening area outside the complex and reached into his pocket, pulling out what the officers thought would be a Pentagon pass. Instead, the man took out a handgun and started shooting at them, prompting the officers to fire back.

“They said he walked up very cool, like there was no distress,” Chief Keevill said, quoting the officers. “He had no real emotion in his face.”

Witnesses told news stations that they heard gunshots and saw people screaming and scrambling to get out of the area.

Asked to describe the gunman and his nationality, Chief Keevill said only, “He’s an American citizen as far as I know.” Beverly Fields, chief of staff of the District of Columbia medical examiner’s office, confirmed Mr. Bedell’s death to The Associated Press.

Late Thursday, investigators were running Mr. Bedell’s name through government databases to determine whether he had known links to terrorist organizations or criminal groups, Pentagon officials said.

Military service records also were being checked to see whether he had ties to the armed forces.

The Pentagon was briefly locked down after the incident. The subway entrance was closed for about two hours.

Shortly after the shooting, officers with military-style weapons fitted with flashlights were seen patrolling the area around the Pentagon, apparently looking to ensure there were no other gunmen. The subway stop where the shooting took place is a major transfer point for people taking buses to various points in Virginia.

Virginia, which has some of the most lax gun laws in the nation and has been pushing to expand gun rights, has been criticized lately by gun control advocates. The state’s General Assembly approved a bill last month allowing people to carry concealed weapons in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, and the House of Delegates voted to end a 17-year-old measure barring people from buying more than one handgun a month.

Mr. Bedell’s family home sits in a golf-course gated community in Hollister, an agricultural town in San Benito, Calif.

Ronald Domingues, a neighbor, described the Bedells as a small, close-knit family that seemed normal by all appearances. Mr. Bedell’s father, John, is a financial adviser and his mother is a nurse, he said. Mr. Domingues, a retired CPA, said he often played golf with the elder Bedell and worked with him professionally for years, often sharing clients.

“This is just completely out of blue,” he said when describing the son. “I would never imagine him doing anything like that.”

Source: The New York Times

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