Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the top U.S. Navy officer and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was at the Navy Yard during Monday morning’s shooting and was evacuated safely, Defense One learned as the melee unfolded.
Greenert is chief of naval operations, known in the military as the CNO. He and his wife live at the Navy Yard in Southeast Washington, D.C., which also houses the CNO’s headquarters. He was home during the morning and scheduled to appear at an event on base when the shooting began.
Greenert “was at Navy Yard at time of incident and evacuated safely,” said Cmdr. Ryan Perry, Navy spokesman at the Pentagon.
An “active shooter” was reported inside the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters building, located at Bldg. 197 at the Navy Yard at 8:20 a.m. EST.
According to Greenert’s spokesman, Capt. Danny Hernandez, Greenert was taken to a Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) “field activity station” located off the base to be briefed. Hernandez declined to reveal the exact location of the briefing but at the time Navy officials had ordered a “shelter in place” for all personnel as conflicting reports lingered about the number of shooters and casualties.
Greenert later proceeded to the Pentagon. In the afternoon, the CNO visited with the wounded and family members at the hospital. Then he returned to speak with Navy and civilian personnel back at the Navy Yard.
“Darleen and I extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims of today’s events at the Navy Yard,” Greenert said in a statement provided to Defense One. “Our team of sailors and Navy civilians at the Navy Yard deserve our care and concern at this time. I applaud the efforts of all who immediately responded to this course of events in order to care for the injured victims and ensure the safety of our personnel.”
The death toll from the Navy Yard rampage reached 13 by day’s end, all at the hand of a gunmen who was a former fellow Navy shipmate. His name was Aaron Alexis and he was an aviation electrician’s mate 3rd Class, the Pentagon confirmed. Alexis was 34 -years old and listed New York, NY, as his hometown. He enlisted in the Navy in 2007.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel received updates throughout the event. “This is a tragic day for the Department of Defense, the national capital area, and the nation,” Hagel said in a statement. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this outrageous act of violence, their families, and all those affected by today’s events. I am grateful for the swift response of federal and local law enforcement, and for the professionalism of DoD personnel at the Navy Yard complex. The Department of Defense will continue to offer its full assistance in the investigation of this terrible and senseless violence.”
The Naval Sea Systems Command’s headquarters is the work place for about 3,000 people. Comprised of command staff, headquarters directorates, affiliated Program Executive Offices and several field activities, the Navy yard engineers, builds, buys and maintains ships, submarines and combat systems for the U.S. Navy.
This article was updated from a previous version.