WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Normal operations resumed Thursday at the Washington Navy Yard but the morning was anything but normal three days after it was the scene of a mass shooting in which a gunman killed 12 people.
Thousands of employees are facing nightmares and a host of emotions as they returned to work today. As they try to get back to a normal routine, many are finding it difficult to put the tragic event behind them.
The Navy installation re-opened at 6 a.m. Thursday. Traffic was blocked from reaching the main gate for a time because a tractor-trailer tried to make a U-turn, and its 42,000-pound load shifted.
The workers will not be returning to Building 197 just yet. That is a still an FBI crime scene. The base gym is also closed so it can be used as an FBI staging area.
Concern continues to grow about how a seemingly troubled Alexis kept his security clearance. The Department of Defense is promising a full investigation into how the red flags were missed.
Employees returning to work Thursday said they still felt unsettled about what happened.
Building 197, where Monday's deadly shooting rampage occurred, remains closed. Engineer Bob Flynn's office is on the third floor, but says he wanted to come back.
“I actually needed to get back,” Flynn says. “I needed to see everybody. I needed to hug people.”
Flynn recounted hearing the shooter, as he and frightened co-workers huddled together, lights off.
“One was on the phone with 911, whispering,” he says. “Another was on their Blackberry under the desk, so you couldn't see the light of the Blackberry. We all had hand signals.”
"It's a little surreal I guess," said Brooke Roberts, an engineer who works across the street from the building where the shooting happened.
"You don't think this sort of thing can happen to you at your workplace, so you're just not prepared for it, regardless," he said as he walked by a blocked off gate he is accustomed to using to enter the Navy Yard. He described himself as feeling "still unsettled," noting the blocked off entrance.
"It's still not quite normal, and it probably won't be for some time," Roberts said.
Barbara Smith said she was feeling apprehensive, walking toward the Navy Yard entrance.
"But, you know, I have to work, and I'm trusting that they're taking care of what needs to be taken care of," she said.
To treat such trauma, the Navy now has teams of psychiatrists, medical staff and chaplains -- both at the Navy Yard and at Joint Base Anacostia Bolling.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.