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The men charged with protecting the Capitol conferred early on the Washington Navy Yard shooting, but their jurisdictional decisions on Monday show they came to different conclusions on how to proceed.
Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer told CQ Roll Call on Tuesday that, in retrospect, his decision to lock down did not seem necessary, but he did so to not take any chances and to conform with the best law enforcement practices.
But the decision of House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving not to lock down the House created an awkward situation.
“It would have been more effective and less troublesome to the police as well as to optics in general if the House had taken a similar course of action,” Gainer said. “Reasonable professionals disagreed. I respect Mr. Irving’s perspective but called it differently. I will avoid that in the future and will work with my House counterpart to avoid such situations.”
Gainer said the lockdown had limited effectiveness “but served its purpose in the Senate buildings, page dorm and Senate day care.”
Shots were first reported shortly after 8:15 a.m. Monday at the Naval Sea Systems Command at the Navy Yard’s Building 197, about 1.5 miles southeast of the Capitol.
At 8:54 a.m., Capitol Police reported that several units of officers were providing mutual support and assistance to the Metropolitan Police Department. At the time, staffers, employees and reporters were arriving on the Capitol campus greeted by the sight of Capitol Police officers in tactical gear and in increased numbers. The department called the enhanced security a “proactive, precautionary measure related to the active shooter.”
As city officials warned the public of a shelter-in-place order for the Navy Yard area, Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine, Gainer and Irving began talking about potential security concerns on the campus. Gainer, a former Capitol Police chief, told CQ Roll Call that he first consulted with Dine just after 9 a.m.
At 9:13 a.m., Gainer’s official Twitter account sent out its first message on the mass shooting: “RE: #NavyYardShooting: There is no known direct threat to the #USCapitol. But you will see USCP officers taking extra precautions here.”
The Capitol Police sent out a 9:27 a.m. statement reiterating there was “no known direct threat” to the Capitol but said the department would be conducting enhanced security operations. Gainer shared the same information with Senate staff one minute later.
Metro Transit Police briefly closed the New Jersey Avenue entrance to the Navy Yard Metro Station, and city officials continued to warn residents to stay clear. By 9:30 a.m., police had closed the 11th Street Bridge, as well as M Street Southeast between Second and Fourth streets.