A shooter stormed a building at Fort Lee outside Petersburg, Va., barricading herself in an office before shooting herself in the head Monday morning. The unidentified shooter has been taken to the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. Her condition is unknown at this time.
“We are sad for our soldier in arms that she faced those kinds of challenges she had to resort to those kinds of actions,” Maj. Gen. Stephen Lyons told reporters during a press briefing Monday. “At the same time, we’re grateful because this situation could have been worse.”
Each day some 34,000 people, including service members from all military branches, their families, civilians, and contractors, pass through Fort Lee, which is located 130 miles south of Washington. There were 1,100 people inside the building at the time of the incident; there have been no additional reports of injuries.
Major General Lyons told reporters that the shooter is a sergeant first class, and a 14-year Army veteran who had been at Fort Lee for nearly three years. Lyons said that he did not know if she had been previously treated for mental health issues or if drugs or alcohol might have played a role in the incident but said that she appeared upset and enraged.
The shooter entered a four-story building, which houses the Army’s Combined Support Command at about 8:45 a.m. bearing a non-military issue pistol. Fort Lee Police arrived at the scene within a matter of minutes and began negotiating with the shooter who had by then barricaded herself in a third-floor office. In the midst of negotiations, she turned the gun on herself and fired a single shot.
“They thought that they had achieved a calm level of negotiations only to find out that that was not the case,” Lyons told reporters.
Fort Lee was placed under lockdown for about an hour. The entire base, with the exception of the main gate to the facility, is now open. Special agents from the US Army Criminal Investigation Command are investigating the incident, according to a statement posted on the US Army Fort Lee Facebook page.
The incident came four months after a soldier with mental health problems killed three people and wounded 16 others at Fort Hood in Texas.
This was the fourth time violence erupted at a Virginia military installation this year. In March, a civilian truck driver shot and killed a sailor at Naval Station Norfolk. In June, one sailor stabbed another near Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. That same medical center was placed on lockdown in April when a sailor shot and killed himself inside the barracks.
This article contains material from the Associated Press and Reuters.