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Capitol Police SWAT Team Thwarted at Navy Yard

September 19, 2013  | 

A U.S. Capitol Police commander ordered the agency's SWAT team to stand down Monday morning as operators arrived at the gate of the Washington Navy Yard to confront the shooter, reports WUSA.

The agency's elite Containment and Emergency Response Team had answered a mutual-aid call from two Metro (D.C.) Police officers following the start of Aaron Alexis' rampage killing. The team is based a few blocks from the Navy Yard.

A Capitol Police watch commander "wouldn't let them go in and stop people from being slaughtered," one officer told the Washington TV station. The team was ordered back to the Capitol.

The Metro PD officers, including Officer Scott Williams, eventually entered the military facility and confronted Alexis. Officer Williams was wounded and Alexis was killed by police gunfire.

Comments (26)

Displaying 1 - 26 of 26

Jimbo @ 9/19/2013 12:32 PM

If true, this is very troubling. The commander should be fired.

Lt D @ 9/19/2013 12:45 PM

Columbine all over again......

Rick @ 9/19/2013 12:59 PM

The commander should not just be fired, he should be charged and prosecuted.

James Van Gorder @ 9/19/2013 1:04 PM

Shouldn't his proper title be "Former Commander"?

Lt. MC @ 9/19/2013 1:04 PM

I feel for my fellow officers. Not being at the scene, my first thought would be to disobey the order. Easy to say sitting here in CO. Regardless, I hope that a thorough investigation is done and that those who lost loved one and colleagues get answers. That said, and being a vet myself, I still don't understand why our Armed Forces are anything but.

Greg @ 9/19/2013 1:06 PM

Before you try and convict the SWAT commander did anyone consider his motivation may have been to have the team at the capitol in case this was an organized attack with multiple attackers where the capitol itself may have been a target. I wonder what would have been said if his team was engaged at the Navy Yard and a second gunman, or team of gunman, attacked the capitol.

Great job D.C. Metro for putting down the gunman so quickly saving many lives.

Dave @ 9/19/2013 1:15 PM

There was a second SWAT team already on the Hill. The Commander knew that. He should be reduced in rank and never be allowed to make a command decision again. What a COWARD.

8sam1mpd @ 9/19/2013 1:23 PM

Having read the first 6 comments I might commented like most of them had I not read [email protected]/19/2013 1:06pm. A good leader cannot intimately commit themselves, they need the overall view (30,000 foot view) of the incident to deploy assets where and when needed. A thorough debriefing should occur for all as a learning experience for any future similar event.

Ken @ 9/19/2013 2:08 PM

I thought that the commander should be replaced too but further thought might be that the commander didn't want a fire fight with a lot of civilians in the cross fire and who knows...maybe the federals ordered him to stand off so they could take the credit as usual. Anyway...great job by all law enforcement involved thoughts and prayers to the injured officer and family.

Dave @ 9/19/2013 2:43 PM

I'm seeing some idiotic comments what appears to be law enforcement. 1. They responded to mutual aid request. 2. They were the closest unit trained to handle the situation. 3. They were at the gates, on scene and ordered to retreat. 4. You don't pull off the team who is TRAINED and AT SCENE. PERIOD END OF DISCUSSION. You move other assets to protect sites that are not under imminent threat. This commander cost lives and let Officers who are not trained and didn't have the equipment needed handle the situation. I shame the SWAT officers for not continuing past the gate. The officer in charge of that unit should be removed. As a sworn officer you are there to PROTECT lives, regardless of what some idiot in an office not at scene has to say. It's not like they were 5 miles away. They were, as they said, 30 seconds away from an active shooter. Lots of shame to go around for the Captial PD

titan @ 9/19/2013 3:03 PM

Active shooter!!!! That's all im going to say. Active shootet!!!!

DEADMAN @ 9/19/2013 3:37 PM

The commanders career should end,if not prosecuted,he/she cost lives.Unfortunately, they still promote on test scores and political consideration,especiallt in D.C.,not on ability to do the job,the ability to command others..Was the commander the one doing the press interview?

Frank @ 9/19/2013 3:39 PM


Greg @ 9/19/2013 3:52 PM

@Dave my intentions were not to provoke but rather to suggest that all the facts aren't in and like Lt. MC said, " I hope that a thorough investigation is done and that those who lost loved one and colleagues get answers." If the commander was wrong I am confident it will come out and the proper decision regarding his fate will be made. It's funny how we get upset when the public rushes to judge us without having been there on incidents but we find it okay to do it to our own brothers and sisters. And yes I am law enforcement with 27 years service and 10 years as a SWAT team member and commander.

Stay safe everyone!

Dave @ 9/19/2013 5:06 PM

@Greg, The difference you fail to recognize is that I am taking out brother as their word. Are we not supposed to believe what the Swat officers themselves are complaining about? Did they somehow not get sent back? Or are the Swat guys trying to cover up their own screw up by complaining? IF you think the Commander will get disciplined for this, they you haven't been in law enforcement that long.

Capt. Crunch @ 9/19/2013 5:44 PM

Why have a SWAT team if your not going to use them. If the commander does not have a good excuse for his actions then he should be fired.

Will @ 9/19/2013 6:38 PM

Ken- you thought the "commander didn't want a fire fight with a lot of civilians in the cross fire"? OH RIGHT! Then just let the civilians be slaughtered with no protection, so they won't be in the crossfire. That's the kind of stupid thinking that led to the military personnel at the Navy Yard not being able to carry the weapons they are trained to use (thank you Slick Willie). If my family was ever in the line of fire and some dope administrator used that reasoning I would make it my life's mission to see that person have a forced career change!

Sgt. Mike @ 9/19/2013 7:12 PM

Too soon to judge, but it sure seems like the wrong call in hind sight.

Radar @ 9/19/2013 11:51 PM

“The commander in the field is always right and the rear echelon is wrong, unless proved otherwise.” - Colin Powell.
"Remote Control/Command" from a remote location has pitfalls. The on-scene personnel had better situational awareness but obeyed orders that seem counter-intuitive. A review of policy by on-scene supervisor/team leader and the commander is needed. Without all of the facts it is too easy to make judgments about decisions made in the heat of the moment with limited information and time. Prayers for all the victims and kudos to the brothers and sisters in blue for their heroic response.

Ima Leprechaun @ 9/20/2013 1:38 AM

I have no knowlege of how these agencies normally interact but I would think this case would have fallen under the jurisdiction of the Federal Protective Service ar at the very least the Navy and or the Marine Corps. From the local news, DC Metro police invited themselves into this fray and then they requested assistance from the US Capitol Police. The two officers that entered the complex completely on their own put themsevles in danger without proper back-up. Then when back-up did enter, the back-up "assumed" both of these Officers to be terrorists themselves since they had not cleared their entry with anybody and nobody knew who these two guys were other than two more men with guns. I do find it interesting that the agency that had the actual jurisdiction over this problem never made any request for a mutual aid response. These other agencies just jumped in and invited themselves into this event and when that happens people die.

Frank @ 9/20/2013 2:57 AM

Ima Leprechaun ,

It sounds like you have NO Active SHOOTER training what so ever! DC Police were 100% correct... Capitol Police 100% Wrong! We SAVE LIVES as POLICE sometimes we have HIGHRISK situations we are OBLIGATED (SWORN TO UPHOLD AND PROTECT)...."The two officers that entered the complex completely on their own put themsevles in danger without proper back-up" - Exactly what active shooter training teaches -

Lt Dan @ 9/20/2013 5:33 AM

There are lessons to be learned here. Especially in DC, identifying the good guys and the bad guys can be difficult. Training says you stack and attack an active shooter ASAP. Training also says do not over commit resources and be aware of secondary devices/attack elements. Although this was a lone gunman with a mental problems, there are lessons to be learned in preparing for the time that it isn't such a thing. Rest assured, there are elements of a foreign power resident within our borders awaiting a green light to caused panic and murder. Let the powers that be work through this, hold accountable those who failed, and learn a lesson. The biggest take aways for me are to devise a plan to prevent a green on blue situation in the future and military facilities should not be unarmed kill zones.

TERRY F. ZECH (RET)VAPD ( @ 9/20/2013 8:24 AM

As a retired Navy Master-at-Arms there used to be MA's on all the gates at the Navy Yard. They are trained officers why weren't they there or Marine MP's. It's a military facility or did our CO in Chief put contract security officers in place to save money again. yES THE SWAT Commander if he wasn't ordered off made a bad decision.

DirtyHarry @ 9/20/2013 11:44 AM

Shouldn't the U.S.Capitol Police be concerned for other coordinated attacks within the secure Capitol zone - the Capitol Building and Senate & House Office buildings? DC Metro and Park Police and Navy & Marine MPs can handle the active shooter call.

Greg @ 9/23/2013 6:24 AM

Hmmm, sounds a bit like Benghazi all over again...pulling help that could save lives.

Of course, considering how Obama's been all over the news pushing his gun control, just how interested were the leaders in stopping this before a real political crisis could be generated.

I'm sorry, they should have gone in rather than letting those 2 officers who didn't have the equipment and support to enter the fight. don't wave bye to your fellow officers because you don't wish to get in trouble with your commander.

Alorue @ 9/23/2013 1:20 PM

Sounds like another butt kisser who got promoted, made the WRONG call. I really hope this "Commander", gets relieved of his/her "command". They may want to take some time to soak their head and look for a new line of work. There is no room for nit-wits like this "Commander" in an active shooter situation. They either wait to long to make a decision, or they just make the wrong one. Does not sound like their was any leadership present there, except for the members of the CERT unit. Just glad to hear the wounded officer is OK and the bad guy is out of service.

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