WASHINGTON (AP) – A Pentagon policeman died after being stabbed Tuesday in an explosion of violence at a transit center outside the building, and a suspect was shot dead by law enforcement and is died at the scene.
The Pentagon, the headquarters of the US military, was temporarily quarantined after a man attacked the officer on a bus platform shortly after 10:30 a.m. Woodrow Kusse, the head of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, who is responsible for security at the facility.
The deaths of the officer and the suspect were first confirmed by officials who were not authorized to discuss the case and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The Fairfax County Police Department also tweeted condolences over the officer’s death. Officials said they believed two passers-by were injured.
The suspect has been identified by several law enforcement officials as Austin William Lanz, 27, of Georgia.
The officer was ambushed by Lanz, who ran towards him and stabbed him in the neck, according to two of the law enforcement officials. The officers who responded then shot and killed Lanz. Investigators were still trying to determine a motive for the attack and digging into Lanz’s background, including any potential history of mental illness or any reason he might want to target the Pentagon or the police.
Officials were unable to publicly discuss the investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
Lanz enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in October 2012, but was “administratively separated” less than a month later and never earned the title of Marine, the Corps said in a statement. .
Lanz was arrested in April in Cobb County, Ga. On charges of criminal trespassing and burglary, court records online show. On the same day, another criminal case was filed against Lanz with six additional counts, including two counts of aggravated bodily harm against the police, one count of terrorist threat and one charge of rioting in a prison, according to the files.
A judge reduced his bond in May to $ 30,000 and released him, placing certain conditions on him, including that he not ingest illegal drugs and that he undergo a mental health assessment. The charges against him were still classified as pending. A spokesperson for the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Lanz had previously been held at the agency’s detention center, but referred all other matters to the FBI’s field office in Washington.
An attorney who has represented Lanz in the Georgia cases did not immediately respond to a phone and email requesting comment, and messages left for family members at Lanz’s home in suburban Atlanta in Acworth, Ga., Were not immediately fired.
Tuesday’s attack on a busy part of the Washington area transportation system shook nerves in an area already poised to be on high alert for violence and potential intruders outside of buildings from the federal government, in particular following the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill.
During a Pentagon press conference, Kusse declined to confirm that the officer was killed or even provide basic information on the course of the violence or the death toll. He would only say that an officer had been attacked and that “gunshots were exchanged”.
Kusse and other officials declined to rule out terrorism or provide any other potential motive. But Kusse said the Pentagon compound was secure and “we are not actively looking for another suspect at this time.” He said the FBI was leading the investigation.
âI cannot jeopardize the ongoing investigation,â Kusse said.
The FBI only confirmed that it was investigating and that there was “no continuing threat to the public”, but declined to provide details or a possible motive.
Later on Tuesday, the Pentagon’s Force Protection Agency issued a statement confirming the loss of the officer, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed condolences and said the Pentagon flags will be hoisted at half mast.
“This deceased officer died in the line of duty, helping to protect the tens of thousands of people who work at the Pentagon – and who visit – daily,” Austin said in a statement. âThis tragic death today is a stark reminder of the dangers they face and the sacrifices they make. We are eternally grateful for this service and the courage with which it is rendered. “
Tuesday’s violence occurred at a subway bus platform that is part of the Pentagon Transit Center, a hub for subway and bus lines. The station is a short walk from the Pentagon building, located in Arlington County, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington.
An Associated Press reporter near the building heard several shots, then a pause, then at least one more shot. Another PA reporter heard the police shout “gunman”.
A Pentagon announcement said the facility was on lockdown, but that was lifted after noon except for the area around the crime scene.
Austin and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were at the White House meeting with President Joe Biden at the time of the shooting. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Austin returned to the building and went to the Pentagon Police Operations Center to speak to the officers there.
It was not immediately clear whether additional security measures could be instituted in the region.
In 2010, two Pentagon Force Protection Agency officers were injured when a gunman approached them in a security checkpoint. The officers, who survived, retaliated, fatally injuring the gunman, identified as John Patrick Bedell.
Associated Press editors Colleen Long and Michael Biesecker in Washington and Matthew Barakat and Sagar Meghani in Arlington, Virginia, contributed to this report.
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