Shooting outside Pentagon; one killed

WASHINGTON: A man calmly pulled a gun from his pocket and opened fire outside the Pentagon’s metro entrance on Thursday, injuring two police officers before he was shot dead, officials said.

“There is no indication at this point that there are any domestic or international terrorist connections at all,” chief Richard Keevill of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency told reporters about Thursday’s shootout in front of shocked onlookers.

The suspect, identified as 36-year-old John Patrick Bedell of California, “passed away” after being shot in the head by officers, two of whom were wounded in the assault but were expected to recover, Keevill said.

The shooting occurred during the crowded evening rush-hour outside the busy subway station which is just outside the large Department of Defence building, triggering a temporary security lockdown at the US military headquarters.

The suspect “appeared to be pretty calm” as he approached the entrance, Chief Richard Keevill of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency told reporters.

“As the officers started to ask him for his pass... he drew a weapon from his pocket and started shooting,” Keevill said.

“He did not say anything,” he added. “There was no distress. He had no real emotion on his face.” Police returned fire and the suspected shooter was critically wounded.

“We were fortunate that there were no other injuries,” Keevill said. The injuries to the two police officers appeared to be grazing wounds and not life threatening, he said.

The three were taken to nearby George Washington University hospital for treatment while the motive of the suspected gunman remained unclear.

Authorities were reportedly investigating whether there was a second person involved. No motive for the shooting was released by police but there were signs today that Bedell harboured deep-seated resentment of the military and doubts about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

In an Internet posting, a person under the name J Patrick Bedell wrote that he was working towards “establishing the truth of events such as the September 11 demolitions.” The blogger also wrote “I am determined to see that justice is served in the death of Colonel James Sabow,” a US Marine who died in his backyard in 1991.

Some followers of the closely-monitored case insist Sabow was murdered because he was on the verge of exposing extensive arms and drug shipments to and from Latin America on US military flights.

The Pentagon lifted the security lockdown on Thursday and reopened its entrances after deciding that the danger had passed.

The shooting occurred at 6:40 pm (2340 GMT) along a sidewalk adjacent to the metro station and the entrance to the Pentagon, officials said. After a hijacked plane slammed into the Pentagon in the September 11 attacks of 2001, the building was fortified and the metro entrance was rebuilt to bolster security.