Navy Yard agency looks ahead after September shootings
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) - About 2,700 workers displaced by the Washington Navy Yard shootings last year will begin returning to the renovated building in February, Navy Vice Admiral William Hilarides said Thursday.
By the end of April, the enormous office building where a gunman killed 12 civilian workers before police shot him dead will be fully reopened with a new name and a new, more secure visitors entrance, Hilarides told shipbuilding contractors at a breakfast meeting near the Pentagon.
"It's been tough but the workforce is resilient, the people are committed to the mission, and it's great to get through that and begin to look toward the future," Hilarides said.
He said the structure, built in the 1800s as a naval gun factory, will still bear the number 197 but be named the Joshua Humphreys Building, after the designer of the first Navy frigates.
The building was the headquarters for Naval Sea Systems Command, the Navy's shipbuilding agency, when civilian contractor Aaron Alexis opened fire with a sawed-off shotgun Sept. 16. It has since been closed, with the largely civilian workforce operating out of a former Coast Guard headquarters building in the Buzzard Point neighborhood and several Navy Yard buildings, Hilarides said.
He said the slain workers will be honored at an anniversary ceremony at the Navy Yard in September. The Navy awarded them posthumous medals last month. The same ceremony recognized 24 others, including 16 shooting survivors, who unexpectedly found themselves in what Hilarides called "a near-combat position."
"There is still a cadre of folks who are pretty affected by it, as you can imagine. They saw things that you would never see," he said. "So there's some post-traumatic stress still going on, and we'll continue to be careful and do the very best we can to take care of those people as they get better."
The attack came one month after Alexis had complained to police in Rhode Island that people were talking to him through the walls and ceilings of his hotel room and sending microwave vibrations into his body to deprive him of sleep.