The United States' Ministry of Defense building known as the Pentagon was shut down temporarily Tuesday following a violent incident at a nearby metrobus station which has left at least one police officer and one perpetrator dead.
After just over an hour, authorities admitted the incident had left several victims, but only later in the day did it become known that a Pentagon police officer had died after being stabbed. According to The Associated Press (AP) two bystanders had also been injured.
The officer had been attacked shortly after 10.30 am local time, after which time a shootout resulted in “several victims,” according to Woodrow Kusse, chief of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency.
Kusse acknowledged that an officer had been attacked and that “gunfire was exchanged,” although he did guarantee the Pentagon complex was secure, that no other suspect was involved and that the FBI was leading the investigation.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed his condolences and ordered flags at the Pentagon to be flown at half mast. “This fallen officer died in the line of duty, helping protect the tens of thousands of people who work in — and who visit — the Pentagon on a daily basis,” Austin said in a statement. “This tragic death today is a stark reminder of the dangers they face and the sacrifices they make. We are forever grateful for that service and the courage with which it is rendered.”
And the Fairfax County Police Department also posted its condolences for the officer's death on social media.
The perpetrator was identified as Austin William Lanz, a 27-year-old man from the State of Georgia. He stabbed the officer in the neck, after which he was gunned down by responding law enforcement officers.
Lanz, who had enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in October 2012 but was “administratively separated” before actually becoming a Marine, had been arrested in April in Cobb County, Georgia, on criminal trespassing and burglary charges, while a separate criminal case was filed against him with six additional charges, including two counts of aggravated battery on police, a count of making a terrorist threat and a charge for rioting in a penal institution, the records show.
A judge reduced his bond in May to US $ 30,000 and released him, imposing some conditions, including that he not ingest illegal drugs and that he undergo a mental health evaluation. The charges against him were still listed as pending.
Tuesday's violence occurred on a Metro bus platform that is part of the Pentagon Transit Center, a hub for subway and bus lines. The station is steps from the Pentagon building, which is in Arlington County, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington.