There was something about the first email news alert that came into my work computer yesterday morning at 9:01 a.m.
"Reports of an active shooter at Navy Yard area. Avoid that area."
I don't know if it was the time of day, the location of the shooter or the fact that it was a Monday that made me stare at the email and think, "This is bad." Unsure of what parts of the city my colleagues planned to go for meetings or appointments, I immediately forwarded the Navy Yard email to everyone in my office.
The "active shooter" the email reported was a former Navy man who had launched an attack yesterday morning inside a building at the Washington Navy Yard, spraying gunfire on office workers in the cafeteria and in the hallway, killing 13 people. Parts of the city were in lockdown as the police and FBI searched the city by foot and by helicopters for two other shooting suspects seen by eyewitnesses.
|Washington Navy Yard|
I think that my instincts told me it was bad because I knew the Washington Navy Yard is the Navy's central headquarters, protected by armed guards and metal detectors and employees have to show IDs to get in. My Washington, DC office building is located in the northwest section of the city and the Navy Yard is located in the southeast section of the city. Fortunately, I was not physically close to the action. But that didn't mean I felt safe.
I am more than aware that the subject of gun responsibility is a hot button issue in which people feel passionately but when you live in a city where a mass shooting happens, you think only about how such a senseless tragedy could have been prevented.
I am tired of reading about people going to work, children going to school, people doing normal things, who then end up getting shot in cold blood and dying for no reason. It's beyond sad and it's frightening and I wonder how many more times things like this have to happen before gun responsibility becomes something we all are committed to have happen as a nation.
When I finally got home after reading news alerts all day that progressively got sadder and sadder, I turned on the television to listen the evening news. I knew it would be bad but I had not been near a television all day and I needed to hear and see what was going on. The usual news stories were broadcast at the beginning of the 7 pm nightly news, explaining how the awful events had unfolded and identifying the gunman in the Navy Yard attack killed by police as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis of Texas.
But then I watched as a weary woman doctor appeared at a news conference. She was identified as Dr. Janis Orlowski, Chief Medical Officer at Medstar Washington Hospital Center where most of the victims had been taken by ambulance. The day's tragedy was reflected in her face and demeanor. She said the words I had been yearning to hear all day.
|Dr. Janis Orlowski|
Chief Medical Officer
Medstar Washington Hospital Center
Here is a full text of Dr. Orlowski's poignant remarks:
"You know what, we see a lot of trauma. And you know, sometimes it's just, you know —accidents that occur that we get to help people with, because they're accidents. And then you see what I call senseless trauma. And there is — there's something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work to try and eradicate.
I — I have to say, I may see this everyday, I may, you know, be the Chief Medical Officer of a very large trauma center. But there's something wrong here when we have these multiple shootings, these multiple injuries. There is something wrong. and the only thing that I can say is we have to work together to get rid of it.
I would like you to put my trauma center out of business. I really would. I would like to not be an expert on gunshots and not to be an expert on this. We are — we do it well. Very experienced surgeons. But, quite frankly, I would rather they were doing their surgery on other things.
And you know, it's a great city. It's a great country. And we have to work together to get rid of this. Because we just cannot have, you know, one more shooting with, you know, so many people killed.
We've got to figure this out. We've got to be able to help each other. We're dealing right now with three innocent people.
But my prayers and my thoughts go out to those people who have died as a result of today. And, you know, their families and what they're going to have to go through. So I have to say, you know, it's a challenge to all of us. Let's get rid of this. This is not America. This is not Washington D.C. This is not good. So we have got to work to get rid of this."