U.S. Contractors shocked by Navy Yard shooter’s security clearance

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Read Time:4 Minute, 54 Second
WASHINGTON — Contractors who do government work in the Navy Yard area said Tuesday that they don't feel safe at their jobs after learning that contractor Aaron Alexis was cleared to work at the military facility despite a discharge from the Navy following aggressive and violent behavior.
 
"It's shocking," said Sidney Antommarchi, an enterprise architect for a firm that manages contracts for the Department of Defense. "I would expect a security clearance investigation would have turned up something like that."
 
Antommarchi spoke Tuesday outside his workplace near the Residence Inn, the hotel where Alexis was staying with other contractors who worked at the Navy Yard. The hotel is a few blocks away from the facility, where police on Monday shot and killed Alexis after he killed 12 people with a shotgun he brought to work.
 
The hotel neighborhood is full of cafes and fast-food restaurants where government workers and contractors who work in the government installations nearby go for lunch. The security badges that give workers access to the buildings and offices were visible around almost every neck Tuesday.
 
Antommarchi said he has held "top-secret" clearance in the past and said he was mystified that Alexis would qualify for legitimate access to the Navy Yard.
 
Antommarchi says many non-government workers who fill numerous jobs within the military in Washington are shocked that Alexis was cleared by security protocols to work at the Navy Yard given his history.
 
A Navy official speaking on the condition of anonymity said Alexis was honorably discharged in January 2011 for "a pattern of misconduct" that included a 2010 gun incident in his Fort Worth, Texas, apartment in which he fired a bullet into his ceiling. The bullet blasted through the floor of his upstairs neighbor, a woman who had been feuding with Alexis about noise issues.
 
Alexis was arrested but never charged due to lack of evidence of a crime. He told police he was cleaning his weapon and it went off accidentally, according to news media reports including the Associated Press.
 
Alexis was arrested in Seattle in 2004 for allegedly shooting out the tires of another man's car in what detectives described as an anger-fueled "blackout," Seattle police said Monday according to CBS News. He was not convicted in that incident, either.
 
The incidents did not prevent him from getting a civilian job recently at the Navy Yard. He was hired as a technical worker for a Hewlett-Packard subcontractor that is maintaining computer systems at Navy installations worldwide. The FBI said Alexis gained access to the Navy Yard with a valid pass obtained as part of his work as a contractor.
 
"I would expect a security clearance investigation would have turned up something like that," said Antommarchi, who works for ICF International on a contract for the Defense Contract Management Agency.
 
Alexis' discharge papers should have provided a clue that something was amiss, Antommarchi said.
 
Robert Hatchett, a contractor who manages a conference center for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) next-door to the hotel where Alexis stayed, said he feels "very secure" at his building, except for one type of incident that he doesn't think the security staff he works with on a regular basis could easily thwart.
 
"I'd be worried about workplace violence, somebody with mental issues that had legitimate access to the building," Hatchett said. "Whether that's the case at the Navy Yard is unclear" because the shooter's motives are still unknown, he said.
 
Hatchett faults the Navy for not following up on Alexis after his discharge, run-ins with law and while he was being treated by the Veterans Administration for hearing voices.
 
"It's unfathomable they wouldn't have got a handle on that" and hadn't revoked his security clearance, Hatchett said.
 
Asked whether he'd feel safe working at the Navy Yard in the future, Hatchett said: "I would now. I think they'll ramp up security. I don't think that will happen again."
 
The Navy has not revealed what goes into its security checks on outside contractors who work at the Navy Yard or other military facilities. Time magazine reported this week that a soon-to-be-released government audit says the Navy may have weakened security measures at the Navy Yard to save money.
 
A federal official with access to the audit by the Department of Defense Inspector General's office told Time that the report says the Navy "did not effectively mitigate access-control risks associated with contractor-installation access" at the Navy Yard and other naval installations.
 
The risks resulted from an attempt by Navy officials "to reduce access-control costs," the audit said. The Pentagon inspector general began the audit in September 2012 and in August 2013 posted an update to its website stating it was expected to be released within the next 30 days.
 
Antommarchi said his own "top-secret" security clearance investigation included a criminal background check, a credit review and interviews with every one of his references, he said. Contractors with such clearances know that even late payments on bills would raise a red flag.
 
"Everybody that works in that kind of environment expects that all those things are being checked," he said.
 
If he worked in the Navy Yard complex, he'd "absolutely" feel unsafe, Antommarchi said. "It's a failure that needs to be looked into."
 
Contributing: Jim Michaels

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Aaron Alexis, Navy Yard shooting suspect: Who is he?

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Read Time:7 Minute, 25 Second
WASHINGTON — On the surface, Aaron Alexis' time in the Navy appears to have been routine.
 
But as word spread Monday that Alexis is suspected of gunning down a dozen people at the Washington Navy Yard here, Navy officials who asked not to be identified said the 34-year-old veteran had a pattern of misconduct.
 
That pattern appears to have contributed to two prior shooting incidents in Seattle and Fort Worth — seemingly minor incidents that damaged a car and an apartment but resulted in no injuries.
 
What may have caused Alexis to go on a deadly shooting spree Monday morning remained a mystery to FBI and Navy officials, as well as acquaintances of the quiet man who split his time in recent years between Texas, New York and Washington State.
 
Alexis was working most recently for a company called "The Experts," a subcontractor on an HP Enterprise Services contract to refresh equipment used on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet network. A federal law enforcement official said he was living at a Residence Inn in Southwest Washington.
 
The official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said Alexis purchased at least some of the weapons used in the assault within the past few days in Virginia. Then on Monday, he allegedly drove to the Navy Yard complex and cleared security checkpoints before parking in a lot on the property.
 
It is believed that Alexis was involved in two altercations in which he opened fire, killing one or possibly two people. The official said Alexis then entered the building and proceeded to the third and fourth floors, where much of the assault was carried out.
 
The official said it wasn't apparent that Alexis was targeting specific people, but that he apparently planned his actions in advance.
 
Valerie Parlave, chief of the FBI's D.C. field division, appealed for the public's help to assist in providing information about the shooter's actions and movements prior to the attack. The FBI posted his photographs on its website.
 
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told CNN that Alexis was serving as an information technology contractor at the time of the shooting. He had enlisted in the Navy in 2007 and attained the rank of Aviation Electrician's Mate 3rd Class.
 
From 2008 to 2011, Alexis served with Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 46 at the Naval Air Station in Fort Worth. He lived in that area and was arrested at least once in 2010 for firing a gun through the ceiling of his apartment. He told police it had been an accident.
 
The Tarrant County District Attorney's Office issued a statement Monday saying that no charges were pursued against Alexis. "It was determined that Alexis was cleaning a gun in his apartment when it accidentally went off,'' Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon Jr., said. "No one was injured.''
 
Seattle police released details late Monday of another shooting incident from 2004 in which Alexis shot the rear tires of a vehicle owned by a construction worker doing work in his neighborhood. Alexis told police he had an anger-fueled "blackout" but added that he felt he had been "mocked" by the workers and "disrespected" by the workers.
 
Alexis also told police he was present during "the tragic events of September 11, 2001" and described "how those events had disturbed him." Detectives later spoke with Alexis' father in New York, who told police Alexis had anger-management problems associated with PTSD, and that he had been an active participant in rescue attempts on 9/11.
 
A short LinkedIn profile of Alexis said he attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and worked as a network technician at SinglePoint Technologies.
 
Officials at the university confirmed that Alexis was enrolled "as a worldwide online student via our Fort Worth campus. He started classes in July 2012 and was pursuing a bachelor's of science in aeronautics." The school bills itself as the world's largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace.
 
Friends who knew Alexis in the west Fort Worth neighborhood where he once lived described him as an easygoing guy who practiced Buddhism and spoke fluent Thai — but who steadily complained about a lack of jobs and money and liked to carry a pistol in his belt.
 
Nutpisit Suthamtewakul met Alexis around three years ago at a Fort Worth Buddhist temple and quickly became fast friends with him. Alexis moved in with Suthamtewakul, who owns the Happy Bowl Thai restaurant, and the two would have late-night drinking sessions, mostly Heineken.
 
Suthamtewakul would move four times over the next three years. Alexis moved with him. Struggling to keep a job, Alexis didn't contribute to the rent but would come to Suthamtewakul's restaurant and help with deliveries for free, including to some of Fort Worth's roughest neighborhoods, he said. Often, Alexis would have his .45-caliber pistol tucked in his belt, Suthamtewakul said.
 
Alexis would hang out mostly with Suthamtewakul and his Thai friends. "He liked to hang out with Thai people," he said. He didn't have a temper but wasn't afraid to use his fists, he said. Once, a friend of Suthamtewakul's shoved Alexis over an argument about a girl. Alexis punched him in the nose, bloodying him and drawing the cops to the scene.
 
Suthamtewakul trusted and liked Alexis, even asking him to be his best man at his wedding in December. In July, with Suthamtewakul's new wife now living with the pair, Alexis moved out.
 
"He was a good guy to me," Suthamtewakul said. "I still can't believe he would do that."
 
Michael Ritrovato, 50, said he befriended Alexis about four years ago at a Buddhism festival in nearby Keller, Texas. He would see him often at the Happy Bowl. Both fellow New Yorkers, Ritrovato and Alexis talked about jobs and girls and got together at Ritrovato's house to watch the New York Giants play in the Super Bowl.
 
"He loved to have fun," Ritrovato said. "We would have a few beers together."
 
But last year, Alexis' fun-loving attitude soured, he said. After landing a job with a computer company that took him to Japan, Alexis called Ritrovato to complain that the company hadn't paid him in weeks. Earlier this year, Alexis called again to say his car had broken down and he didn't have enough money to fix it, Ritrovato said.
 
Ritrovato said he tried to get him a government job several times, but Alexis would foul up the application process. Four months ago, Alexis called again with more car and money problems.
 
"We talked about car problems. We talked about him needing money," Ritrovato said. "He was upset."
 
Kristi Suthamtewakul, who dated and later married the owner of the Happy Bowl, described Alexis as charming. "It's hard to believe he would go and shoot those people," she said. "It makes me sad for the families of the victims, and it makes me sad for Aaron."
 
Alexis lived most recently in New York City, the Navy said. He had relatives in Georgia and Seattle, according to public reports. He was six feet, one inch and weighed 190 pounds. He last voted in Queens, N.Y., in 2000.
 
Two law enforcement agents checked on a third-floor walkup apartment in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn on Monday night where some of Alexis' relatives had lived. They would not answer questions.
 
A third-floor resident who gave his name only as "Barry" said the agents asked him about a 60-year-old woman related to the suspected gunman. An online address database showed that Cathleen Alexis, 60, and Naomi Alexis, 31, may once have resided in the adjacent apartment.
 
Shirley Johnson, a resident who said she had lived on the building's second floor since 1984, said she believed the Alexis family had moved out at least several months ago.
 
Alexis received two routine medals for his service in the Navy: the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, which are given to any member of the armed forces serving during a national emergency.
 
Jervis reported from Fort Worth. Contributing: Kevin McCoy in New York City; Jim Michaels and Tom Vanden Brook in Washington, D.C.; and Peter Eisler in McLean, Va.

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Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Shooting rampage at Navy Yard in D.C. leaves 13 dead

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Read Time:7 Minute, 4 Second
WASHINGTON — A civilian contractor and military veteran with a valid base entry pass went on a shooting rampage at a U.S. Navy command complex building Monday, killing 12 people before being shot dead himself, authorities said.
 
Aaron Alexis, 34, a contractor from Fort Worth, was identified by officials as the shooter who was killed in a gunbattle with police responding to the morning attack at the Washington Navy Yard. A military official said Alexis had been a Navy reservist on active duty before being discharged for misconduct.
 
The FBI said late Monday that Alexis had a valid pass and security clearance to enter the Navy Yard as a civilian contractor. Valerie Parlave, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office, said the shooter had "legitimate access to the Navy Yard.''
 
The carnage and desperate efforts to stop the shooting gripped the nation's capital in a tense, day-long drama just blocks from the Capitol. Hours after reporting that Alexis was dead, city officials said they had not entirely ruled out the possibility another shooter was involved, but law enforcement officials said Monday night they were confident there was only one gunman. Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said there is currently no known motive for the shootings.
 
At least three people, including a city police officer, suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds inside building 197 at the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters. Hospital officials said all three were expected to recover. Authorities said another five people suffered minor non-gun injuries.
 
Hundreds of workers in the Navy complex were forced to hide in their offices or flee for safety while gunshots echoed from a gunman firing a high-powered semi-automatic weapon into the cafeteria and other parts of the building.
 
A mile or so away at the Capitol, the Senate temporarily locked down all its offices and buildings. The House of Representatives was not in session and did not suspend office functions.
 
President Obama said he is mourning "yet another mass shooting" and ordered flags at government buildings to be flown at half-staff.
 
"This is a horrific tragedy,'' Washington Mayor Vincent Gray said.
 
A federal law enforcement official said Monday that Alexis, who had been staying at a nearby Residence Inn since late August or early September, legally purchased at least some of the weapons used in the assault within the past few days in Virginia.
 
Alexis allegedly drove to the Navy Yard complex with the weapons early Monday and cleared security checkpoints before parking in a lot on the property, said the official, who was not authorized to comment publicly. After leaving his car, it is believed that Alexis was involved in two altercations in which he opened fire, killing one or possibly two people.
 
The official said Alexis then entered the building and went to the third and fourth floors, where much of the assault was carried out. He said Alexis did not appear to have an escape plan and it wasn't clear whether he was targeting specific people.
 
Gray said the shootings did not appear to be terrorism-related but said the possibility had not been ruled out.
 
He said all the victims were civilians and were 46 to 73 years of age.
 
Police released the names of seven of the 12 killed: They were Michael Arnold, 59; Sylvia Frasier, 53; Kathy Gaarde, 62; John Roger Johnson, 73; Frank Kohler, 50; Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46; and Vishnu Pandit, 61. No hometowns were listed.
 
Lanier late Monday night lifted a shelter-in-place order for the area around the shooting site and said she was confident "we have the single and sole person responsible for the loss of life inside the base today.''
 
The Washington Nationals baseball team, which plays home games at a stadium close to the shooting scene, canceled the evening game. At Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, departures were halted briefly.
 
Helicopters filled the skies around the Navy complex on the Anacostia River in the Southeast quadrant of the city, an area that has seen a development revival in recent years. Some of the copters airlifted the injured away in baskets suspended beneath the aircraft.
 
Alexis was an online student at the Fort Worth campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University pursuing a bachelor's of science in aeronautics, the school said.
 
With the city on edge, the Secret Service arrested a man for tossing firecrackers over the White House fence late Monday. The Secret Service locked down the White House when the incident happened, fearing the pops could have been gunshots.
 
Gary Humes, a programs manager with the Navy, was entering the building where the shootings took place around 8:20 a.m. when he was met by people fleeing and warning of a shooter inside. He and more than 100 others ran to a building across the street, while others ran to the Navy museum nearby.
 
"I decided to go in to work a little late this morning,'' he said. "I guess God was with me."
 
Lanier said one shooter was killed in an exchange of gunfire with authorities and one police officer was wounded. Federal officials identified the dead shooter as Alexis. Gray said the officer was hospitalized and doing well Monday evening.
 
Internal security at the Navy Yard building had already "identified and engaged the shooter" by the time the first D.C. police arrived, Lanier said.
 
She said police exchanged gunfire with the shooter "multiple times" before the final gun battle.
 
"It's one of the worst things we've seen in Washington, D.C.,'' Lanier said.
 
A federal law enforcement official told USA TODAY that Alexis was armed with an AR-15, which is a light-weight semi-automatic rifle, as well as a shotgun and a handgun. The federal official, who requested anonymity because of the fluid nature of the investigation, said there is no firm evidence that anyone else fired weapons in the attack.
 
The official said surveillance video of the shooting was being reviewed and scores of investigators were interviewing hundreds of witnesses.
 
Alexis may have gained entry into the Navy Yard by using someone else's identification card, said a federal law enforcement official who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly.
 
Terrie Durham, an executive assistant at Naval Sea Systems Command, said a fire alarm sounded and she was trying to leave with a group of people when they encountered a shooter.
 
"We couldn't see his face, but we could see him with the rifle," Durham said. "He raised and aimed at us and fired. And he hit high on the wall."
 
Rick Mason, a program management analyst, said a gunman began shooting from a fourth-floor overlook in the hallway outside his office. He said the gunman was aiming down at people in the building's cafeteria on the first floor.
 
Patricia Ward, a logistics management specialist, said she was in the cafeteria. "I heard three shots — pow, pow, pow. Thirty seconds later I heard four more shots."
 
Then panic, as people tried to get out of the cafeteria. "A lot of people were just panicking. There were no screams or anything because we were in shock."
 
Dave Sarr, an environmental engineer, was walking down a nearby street when he saw people running from the Navy Yard. Sarr had seen an evacuation drill a few days earlier at the Navy Yard. "At first I thought it was another drill," Sarr said. "Then I saw an officer with his weapon drawn."
 
At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, chief medical officer Janis Orlowski said the hospital was treating three victims — a male D.C. police officer and two women.
 
She said the police officer had multiple gunshot wounds to his legs and was in surgery. One woman was shot in the shoulder, and the other in the head and hand. All are expected to survive, she said.
 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Seven of 12 Washington Navy Yard victims identified

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In their last press conference of the night after Monday morning's fatal shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, officials identified seven of the 12 victims.
 
They are, according to Washington's Metropolitan Police Department: Michael Arnold, 59; Sylvia Frasier, 53; Kathy Gaarde, 62; John Roger Johnson, 73;Frank Kohler, 50; Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46; and Vishnu Pandit, 61.
 
None of the victims have been identified as active-duty military personnel, officials said.
 
Officials still need to notify the loved ones of the five remaining victims.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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U.S. First confusion, then chaos inside Building 197

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Read Time:7 Minute, 14 Second
WASHINGTON — Far from the crowds of tourists at the Lincoln Memorial and the busy operatives on Capitol Hill, hundreds of workers headed to their jobs at the Navy Yard on an overcast Monday morning.
 
Wedged along the Anacostia River and obscured by walls and fences, the yard's drab, numbered office buildings and hulking garages were filled with the men and women who quietly do the work of engineering, designing and maintaining the country's warships and submarines.
 
At about 8:15 a.m., the ordinary atmosphere was shattered.
 
"I heard 'pow, pow, pow.' Then for a few seconds it stopped. And then 'pow, pow, pow,' " Patricia Ward said. "I just started running."
 
When the shooting was over a short time later, 13 people were dead and several others shot, but alive. In a city where police, uniformed military and X-ray machines are everywhere in the wake of Sept. 11, it was still a shock to many that a mass-murderer struck in the nation's capital.
 
"It's one of the worst things we've seen in Washington, D.C.,'' Police Chief Cathy Lanier said.
 
The Navy Yard is almost as old as the United States. Bought in 1799, it was made into the nation's largest shipbuilding port by the country's first secretary of the Navy Benjamin Stoddert. The ironclad ship the USS Monitor was repaired there; as was the USS Constitution. John Wilkes Booth crossed its bridge to escape to Maryland after assassinating President Lincoln.
 
The yard eventually lost its prominence as a shipyard because of the shallowness of the Anacostia, which divides the district from Maryland, and became a center for the design and maintenance of the U.S. Navy's fleet and weapons.
 
On Monday it became a scene of chaos.
 
Bryan Lynn Chaney, employed at the Navy Yard through the Wounded Warrior Project, which assists injured vets, was on the second floor of Building 197 when he heard a noise.
 
"I was coming in the main entrance and as I was going up to my office area I heard what I thought was a locker falling to the ground or slamming a door," Chaney said.
 
"After that maybe 10 or 15 seconds I heard another couple of bursts, which I didn't think was gunshots, but you can't really tell if you weren't expecting to hear that kind of sound," he said.
 
Chaney said people started looking out of their office doors to see what was happening. "It was confusion. We just knew there was something going on that was unexpected," he said.
 
What no one could know was that a killer, believed to be a former petty officer 3rd class from Texas who likely walked into work just like everyone else, was firing bullets at everyone he saw.
 
Retired Navy commander Kirk Lippold, who led the USS Cole, spoke with two former shipmates who were on the third floor of Building 197 at the time of the shooting.
 
He said the building is a wide-open space ringed with offices around a central atrium. The building supports are industrial steel beams and his shipmates told him the bullets that hit the beams echoed so loudly it was difficult to determine where they were being fired from.
 
Terrie Durham and her colleagues were just settling into their desks when they heard distinctive "pops" growing increasingly louder and closer. She ran into a darkened hallway on the third floor and saw a man wearing fatigues and holding a long gun.
 
"He was far enough down the hall that we couldn't see his face," Durham told ABC News affiliate WJLA-TV. "But we could see him with the rifle, and he raised and aimed at us and he fired."
 
Durham told the station that he missed, hitting "high on the wall" above their heads.
 
Almost immediately, hundreds of law enforcement and emergency personnel in a city always on guard against large-scale attacks filled the streets around the Yard. Onlookers said it appeared as though the entire law enforcement community descended on the neighborhood, with dozens of cruisers with blaring lights and large black panel vans full of expert snipers racing into the neighborhood.
 
"Everything they had, Secret Service, federal police, everyone came speeding down the street," said James Killingsworth, a mason who was working on rebuilding an historic wall outside the Navy Yard. "I've never seen so many police in my life."
 
As television news programs showed helicopters hovering over the yard, initial reports rattled viewers who were told that there was first one shooter, then two, then perhaps three, suggesting a possible coordinated terrorist attack on the city.
 
Chief Lanier came out at midday to say that a broad collection of law enforcement agencies — her officers, FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, Navy officials — were still looking for two suspects who may have been involved.
 
"The investigation is still very active," Lanier said. "We have a large area that we are still actively searching."
 
Six public schools in and around Capitol Hill were put on lockdown. Reagan National Airport, several miles away, grounded flights in the first few hours of the attack in apparent fear that the shooting was a terrorist attack and that more may be on the way.
 
In the neighborhoods just outside the Navy Yard officials conducted a security sweep of nearby Nationals Park, a glittering and lively addition to a section of the city that was usually desolate after dark. Apartment buildings barred visitors and closed down garages as police combed the alleys and stores in search of possible accomplices in the shooting.
 
Ralph Rider was installing windows on a new building nearby when he and 200 other construction workers were directed into the basement.
 
"They wanted to make sure they got us out of the line of fire," he said.
 
Back inside the building, a fire alarm prompted people to stream out of the building.
 
Bud Sterling, a contractor at the Navy Yard, said he could see people streaming from Building 197 to take shelter in Building 201, where he worked.
 
Gary Humes, a program manager at Naval Sea Systems Command, was walking into the building when people started running out, saying there was a shooter inside and scrambling for cover.
 
"I decided to go into work a little late this morning," Humes said. "I guess God was with me."
 
Omar Grant, a civilian who works in network support, said he was working on the first floor of Building 197 when he heard the shots. "It was unmistakable," he said.
 
Grant and his colleagues heard the fire alarm and started scrambling for the door. Grant escorted a blind colleague from the building as colleagues rushed out, leaving cellphones and other personal belongings behind.
 
Others weren't so lucky.
 
Navy Cmdr. Tim Juris was escaping with several others to an alley behind the building when he started talking with another military officers about what was happening.
 
"I looked down, and the guy next to me (who) was standing talking to me, was down in front of me on the ground," Juris, who doubted the man could've survived the gunshot wound to the head, told WJLA-TV.
 
Employees who work in other parts of the Navy Yard were told to stay put and lock their doors.
 
At the Naval Facilities Engineering Command next door to Building 197, employees were told to stay in their offices until about 10:30 a.m. They were then moved to the lowest level of the parking garage for about two hours.
 
"People were calm," one employee said. "People understood it was an unusual situation and acted like adults."
 
Around 12:30 p.m., they were moved to a food court area where no food was served. They remained there until they were finally allowed to leave at 3:30 p.m.
 
They emerged to find a Navy Yard engulfed with blinking emergency lights, but as quiet as it usually is.
 
Contributing: Alan Gomez, The Associated Press
 

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Study: Natural gas industry can cut fracking emissions

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Read Time:3 Minute, 38 Second
The booming U.S. production of natural gas can be less environmentally harmful than estimated if gas companies take certain steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions, says a major study Monday that was done with industry participation.
 
The study, billed as the first to measure the actual emissions of heat-trapping methane from natural gas wells, finds these emissions are slightly less than the most recent national estimate by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In some cases, the emissions were only about 2% of EPA's estimate, done in 2011.
 
The main reason for the difference? Two-thirds of the wells studied were capturing or controlling the methane to reduce emissions.The EPA assumed a higher percentage of methane, which is far more potent in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, would be emitted.
 
"This is good news in that it shows emissions can be controlled," says Eric Pooley, senior vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund, a research and advocacy group that teamed up scientists, two environmental testing firms and nine natural gas companies to produce the peer-reviewed study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The gas companies involved provided the majority of the funding.
 
"Industry can get it right," says Pooley, saying companies are being prodded to reduce emissions by an upcoming EPA rule — effective January 2015 — that all methane be captured when liquids are being removed after drilling.
 
Production of natural gas has soared nationwide in recent years as companies use hydraulic fracturing or fracking to extract gas from shale deposits. In this process, copious amounts of water, sand and chemicals are blasted into a well to break apart the rock and release the gas. But that production method, which emits far fewer greenhouse gases than coal mining, has sparked protests nationwide because of concerns that it contaminates groundwater and may trigger minor earthquakes.
 
The companies allowed researchers from seven universities to measure methane emissions at 190 production sites last year, including 27 wells being primed for production and 489 that had been fracked. The scientists, led by David Allen of the University of Texas-Austin, looked at how much methane was emitted at different stages.
 
They found the average emissions from the 27 wells where drilling liquids (prior to gas production) were being recovered were 1.7 megatons — a fraction of the EPA's estimated average of 81 megatons per well. They said technology to capture methane cut emissions 99%. They found emissions were higher or similar to EPA's estimate for other phases, including routine production and removing liquids that remain after production.
 
Overall, the study found emissions from these phases, if extrapolated nationwide, would total 757 to 1,157 gigatons of methane — slightly less than the EPA's estimate of about 1,200 gigatons.
 
These findings, if representative of the industry, suggests natural gas can be produced with "modestly low emissions," says Robert Howarth, a professor at Cornell University whose own research estimates methane emissions are much higher.
 
Howarth says he's skeptical they are representative. He says gas companies "do better when they know they are being carefully watched," adding they knew which sites were being measured in the new study. He says they very often don't make the efforts needed to reduce emissions.
 
"There was no cherry picking," says Pooley of the sites measured, noting scientists selected them based on certain criteria. "It's not like a restaurant inspector is coming so the restaurant just cleans up," he says, adding gas production is too time- and labor-intensive to do that.
 
Pooley says the findings show where the industry is going, not necessarily where it is today. "This is not the last word," he says, noting his group will be co-funding 15 more studies on fracking's environmental toll. "It's the first word."
 
He says many environmentalists may prefer solar and wind power, which don't emit greenhouse gases, but he says natural gas production "whether you like it or not, is happening and we need to minimize the environment harm."

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Break in rains help Colorado flood rescue efforts

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Read Time:4 Minute, 21 Second
The death toll from the massive flooding along Colorado's Front Range grew to eight Monday as search-and-rescue operations intensified and the storms that have pummeled the state for a week began to subside.
 
State emergency officials did not release names or details about the latest victims. Three deaths were confirmed in Boulder County and two in El Paso County, and two are presumed dead in Larimer County.
 
Hundreds of residents remain unaccounted for, but the state's earlier estimate of more than 1,250 missing was expected to be significantly lowered after Larimer County officials reported about 400 missing, down from earlier state estimates of about 1,000. Exact numbers remain elusive, since many residents live in isolated or hard-to-reach mountain communities where scores of bridges and roads have been washed out and telephone, cellphone and Internet service has been disrupted for several days.
 
The National Weather Service expected warmer, drier conditions in the state Monday with rain ending at night. Yet officials warned there is still potential for flash flooding in and near saturated foothills late Monday afternoon into early evening, as lingering air moisture combined with warmer temperatures could cause scattered thunderstorms.
 
More than 1,200 people were rescued by vehicles and helicopters Saturday, but 16 rescue helicopters were grounded Sunday after some parts of flooded areas got up to 4 inches of new rain. After seven straight days of rain, some regions have gotten up to 20 inches of rainfall, as much as falls in a typical year.
 
Colorado National Guard Lt. James Goff says 19 helicopters are available for search-and-rescue. The air rescue operation is already one of the nation's largest since Hurricane Katrina, but has been hampered by steady rains and foggy conditions. As the weather breaks, officials urged those unable to communicate by phone to signal helicopters with sheets, mirrors, flares and signal fires.
 
Flooding even trapped first responders. In Lyons, 15 miles north of Boulder, the Colorado National Guard said 15 rescuers, including members of their unit, were stranded, along with about 45 other rescuers and civilians stopped by rising waters that left them cut off during a land evacuation Sunday.
 
State transportation officials say up to 50 highway bridges have been destroyed or seriously damaged.
 
Craig Fugate, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, met with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in Denver on Monday to help coordinate the federal government's recovery work. Fifteen counties have been flooded. Boulder County, the hardest-hit in the state, as well as Adams, Weld and Larimer counties, qualify for FEMA aid. Arapahoe, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, El Paso, Fremont, Jefferson, Logan, Morgan, Pueblo and Washington counties are considered disaster areas and still qualify for emergency aid from the state.
 
More than 3,000 families had registered for FEMA aid, Fugate said.Those seeking assistance can register at 1-800-621-FEMA or www.disasterassistance.gov.
 
Boulder County, with four of the state's flood-related fatalities and widespread damage from flooded creeks, still has at least 235 residents unaccounted for.
 
"Things look better today — the sun is coming out today,'' Boulder Mayor Matthew Applebaum said. "But there is a huge amount of cleanup and repair that people will deal with for a long time. We still haven't entirely gotten a handle" on the damage.
 
About 1,500 homes were destroyed by flooding and 17,500 were damaged, according to initial estimates.
 
Hickenlooper said it's likely that the death toll could rise as rescue operations expand.
 
FEMA is sending two 80-person search-and-rescue teams to assist rescue efforts.
 
In Estes Park, Town Manager Frank Lancaster said floods coated the downtown area with mud, washed out many roads and destroyed a large part of the town's sewer system. Raw sewage is flowing into creeks and downstream into the Big Thompson River, which flooded in 1976 and killed more than 140 people.
 
Some roads are so badly destroyed that several neighborhoods, including the Fish Creek area, may have to remain evacuated over the winter. He said residents who have been evacuated cannot return anytime soon, and workers can't even get into the town. Lancaster said some residents have been joking their town has found itself inside the restricted area of the TV show The Dome.
 
Floods destroyed U.S. Highway 34, the main access route to Estes Park at the gateway to the popular Rocky Mountain National Park.
 
The shortest vehicle route into Estes Park now requires a 140-mile detour. Lancaster said the Estes Park region is heavily dependent on tourism: Its year-round population of about 11,000 swells to 50,000 during the summer and fall.
 
"The biggest thing we need is to get that road fixed," he said. "We need to get back on the map. We need that road. We don't want to be the tourist town nobody can get to."
 
Contributing: KUSA-TV in Denver; Associated Press
 

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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U.S. For millions, insurance will cost less than $100/month

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Read Time:2 Minute, 37 Second
WASHINGTON — About 6.4 million Americans eligible to buy insurance through the new health exchanges will pay $100 or less a month in premiums because of tax subsidies, according to a Department of Health and Human Services report to be released Tuesday and obtained by USA TODAY.
 
The report by the HHS office for planning and evaluation said the lower premiums would primarily apply to insurance customers who buy what are called "silver" plans on the exchanges that open Oct. 1.
 
"The health care law is making health insurance more affordable," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "With more than half of all uninsured Americans able to get coverage at $100 or less, the health care law is delivering the quality, affordable coverage people are looking for."
 
 
The 2010 health care law, also called the Affordable Care Act, requires Americans without health insurance from their employers, Medicare or Medicaid to buy insurance through websites called exchanges that were created for each state. The law also allowed states to expand coverage under Medicaid, the federal-state program for low-income Americans.
 
Subsidies are available to Americans who make less than 400% of the poverty level, or $94,200 for a family of four. The rates were based on people buying silver plans through the exchanges, or the second-lowest-cost plan through the exchanges. Researchers looked at Census data to estimate costs.
 
Although not all of the states nor the federal exchange have announced their rates yet, researchers determined they could estimate payments without that information. As an example, the Affordable Care Act states that someone making 150% of the federal poverty level, or $17,235 a year, would pay 4% of their income — or $57 — for the second-lowest-cost plan. So, that person's subsidy would be the difference between the $57 and the cost of the silver plan in that state.
 
"Consequently, it is not necessary to know the actual second-lowest-cost silver premium to determine how many people will pay $100 or less per person per month for a silver plan," the report states.
 
In addition to the subsidized insurance, a total of half of all uninsured Americans could pay less than $100 for insurance beginning in January because of other expanded programs. About 41.3 million people don't have insurance now, according to HHS.
 
In the 25 states that have decided to expand Medicaid, 12.4 million uninsured Americans will be eligible to pay less than $100 a month, the report found. People in this group will pay either nothing or a small premium to participate in Medicaid.
 
If the rest of the states expanded Medicaid to coverage to those who earned below 138% of the poverty level, about one in four of the 41.3 million people without insurance would qualify for Medicaid, tax subsidies to help pay for insurance or the Children's Health Insurance Program, researchers found.
 
On Monday, Pennsylvania, announced it would expand Medicaid.
 
Follow @kellyskennedy on Twitter.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Man helps impaired co-worker in Navy Yard rampage

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When the shots rang out at the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters in Washington on Monday morning, civilian employee Omar Grant let others run for the exits on the first floor of an atrium while he took his visually-impaired coworker by the arm, Yahoo! News reported.
 
People left behind keys, cellphones and other personal belongings, said Grant, who told USA TODAY he works in network support.
 
The visually impaired co-worker, Lindwood, did not want to give his last name. He was using a white walking stick.
 
"We heard two shots and started wondering if that was the sound of someone dropping something or if they were really shots," Grant told the news organization. "We heard three more shots and that's when people started running out of the building and getting the hell out of there."
 
Grant took Lindwood by the arm and the two walked together from the base to the nearby Metro station. In a photo taken by Chris Moody of Yahoo! News, two men are seen escorting Lindwood.
 
 
 

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Most Coloradans lack flood insurance

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Thousands of Colorado homeowners may face a personal financial disaster in the wake of the state's severe floods.
 
Standard homeowner insurance policies don't cover damage from floods, and most homeowners in the state don't have separate flood insurance.
 
In Colorado, only 22,000 homes and businesses have flood insurance, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Most of those are residential policies.
 
"These are rare events so people think, 'It's not going to happen to me,' " says Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America.
 
He estimates that 10% to 25% of Colorado homes in high-risk flood areas have coverage. In New Orleans and parts of Florida, coverage runs more like 50% to 60%, says Hunter, who previously ran the National Flood Insurance Program. The federal program is the main source of flood insurance coverage for homeowners, renters and businesses.
 
In three Colorado counties hard hit by the floods, the percentage of single-family homes with flood insurance coverage is in the low single digits, FEMA and Census Bureau data show.
 
Boulder County has 4,779 flood insurance policies, FEMA says, but more than 77,000 detached single-family homes, Census data shows.
 
El Paso County, with almost 170,000 single family homes, has 3,915 policies. Larimer County has almost 90,000 single-family homes and 1,343 policies.
 
FEMA urged more Colorado residents to buy flood insurance — for homes and businesses — last year after wildfires destroyed or damaged more than 344,000 acres of land.
 
Fires destroy natural forest barriers and increase erosion risk, flash floods, mud flows and debris flows.
 
"We're in for at least 10 more years of this," says Steve Schopper with the Colorado Springs Fire Department and the Manitou Springs Fire Department. Manitou Springs has been hit with four flash floods since last summer's wildfires, he says.
 
Any homeowner with a mortgage backed by the federal government, most often through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, in a high-risk flood area must have flood insurance.
 
But even homeowners with flood insurance may not have coverage for their homes' contents.
 
Joe Meckle, 53, of hard-hit Lyons estimates that he's lost about $100,000 in chiropractor equipment from his home office.
 
Given that he had insurance on the home, he considers himself fortunate. He hopes to get a low-interest loan, as part of the federal disaster relief, to help rebuild his practice.
 
"I'm in better shape than most," Meckle says. He feels for people who paid off mortgages and didn't maintain flood insurance in the face of rising costs, he says.
 
His latest premiums — for $250,000 in coverage — ran about $2,100 a year. "When it was $50 a year, it wasn't a big deal," but then the cost "became significant," he says.
 
Last year, Congress passed flood insurance reform, which called on FEMA to raise rates to reflect true flood risks and make the program more financially stable.
 
Nationally, the average flood insurance premium runs $650 a year, FEMA says.
 
Consumers should consider flood insurance even if they're not in a mapped flood plain, FEMA says. Typically, 25% of damages occur outside of high-risk areas, it says. More than 90% of presidentially declared disasters include flooding, FEMA says.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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