The shooting incident at Fort Lee, Va., marked the third active shooter this year on a U.S. military base, and turns the spotlight back briefly on military suicides. By Ben Watson
For a very tense hour and a half early Monday, officials from Virginia U.S. Army base Fort Lee responded to an active shooting incident at one of its training headquarters buildings.
“An active shooter incident has been reported on Fort Lee at [Combined Arms Support Command headquarters building],” the Fort Lee Facebook page reported at 9:22 a.m. EDT. Just before 11 a.m., base officials said, "Fort Lee first responders responded to a report of a female soldier with a gun inside the Combined Arms Support Command Headquarters, Bldg. 5020 at approximately 9 a.m. today."
Fort Lee is 25 miles south of Richmond. Base officials updated the situation later in the morning adding, "Early reports indicate the soldier turned the weapon on herself and fired one shot, injuring herself. The soldier was transported Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center."
Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lyons, commanding general of the Combined Arms Support Command, did not identify the soldier in his remarks to the media on Monday, but he did say that she was a 14-year Army veteran with a rank of sergeant 1st class. She had barricaded herself on the third floor of the Combined Arms Support Command building, and had been throwing objects before the shooting occurred.
Late Monday, Fort Lee officials said that the soldier was pronounced dead after being taken to the VCU Medical Center. They said she shot herself—with a weapon that was not her service-issued weapon—after law enforcement tried negotiating with her. No one else was hurt, and Lyons said, "The situation could've been worse."
Fort Lee is home to roughly 34,000 service members from all branches and their family members, as well as civilians and contractors. The base is also home to the Army’s ordnance, quartermaster and transportation schools.
In late April, 41 soldiers from Fort Lee’s 54th Quartermaster Company returned home from 6-month deployments in Kuwait and Afghanistan.
Richmond’s NBC12 news reported the base had planned to introduce an early warning system for the community called the Fort Lee Alert in the coming weeks. The system is part of the Army's $47 million Emergency Management Modernization Program to route on-base 9-1-1 calls directly to emergency responders.
Monday’s incident marks the third time this year that an active shooter has terrorized U.S. military base personnel. In April, a soldier at the Army’s central Texas base Fort Hood killed three and wounded 16 others before he took his own life after base police confronted him.
And in late March, an ex-convict allegedly stormed Navy destroyer USS Mahan's quarterdeck late in the evening and killed the ship’s guard before being killed by another guard on the ship that evening.
Kedar Pavgi contributed to this report.
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