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Investigators piece together Quantico shootings

Mar. 22, 2013 - 05:56PM   |  
Marine Shooting Press Conference
Marine Shooting Press Conference: Marine Shooting Press Conference
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Col. David W. Maxwell, commander of MCB Quantico, holds a press conference March 22 at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Va. Three Marines, including the suspect, were killed in a shooting aboard MCB Quantico late Thursday night. (Mike Morones / Marine Corps Times)

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. — The mood was tense here Friday following a late-night deadly shooting the night before in which officials said an enlisted Marine at Officer Candidates School turned a weapon on two other staff members also on staff there and then killed himself.

Reporters were turned away from the OCS grounds of OCS on Friday morning following a 7 a.m. news briefing off base at the nearby National Museum of the Marine Corps. The shooting occurred in Taylor Hall, a residential building, Marine officials said. Marines on the scene said only OCS personnel and investigators would be allowed anywhere near the building.

One woman and two men died, including the gunman who suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound, said Col. David Maxwell, the base commander. Their identities have not been were not released by press time, pending family notification, he said during a brief meeting with media Friday morning outside the National Museum of the Marine Corps here in Triangle. Maxwell declined to speculate on a possible motive.

All three Marines were enlisted personnel, an official told Marine Corps Times.

The base provost marshal’s office received an emergency call at 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, Maxwell said. Officials then locked down the base and used its public address system to instruct families and employees to stay inside and lock their doors, a Marine on the installation said.

Initially, a base spokesman reported that the shooter was barricaded inside the barracks, leading to a standoff between the shooter and authorities. But several hours later Friday morning, Maxwell told reporters that was not the case. Law enforcement arrived on the scene within minutes of the 911 call, he said, and they neither heard nor fired any gunshots.

Officer Candidates School is considered among the first steps in becoming a Marine officer, with students becoming second lieutenants upon graduation. They move on afterward to training at The Basic School, which also is aboard Quantico. OCS is found located on the base’s main side of the base, not far from the installation’s flight line.

The Taylor Hall barracks is a residential barracks used by the school’s staff. When authorities entered the building at about 11 p.m., they found a male shooting victim in the barracks’ common area, according to local media reports. They located the gunman inside one of the barracks’ rooms about two hours later, around the same time they found the female shooting victim.

“Thursday evening’s fatal shooting was confined to Taylor Hall,” said Maxwell, the base commander. “… All of the candidates in the school are safe and accounted for. And all of the other permanent personnel, as well, with the Officer Candidates School are accounted for.”

Reached by phone Friday morning, the school’s commanding officer, Col. Kris Stillings, declined to comment.

Maxwell said the base lifted restrictions around 2:30 a.m. The incident is under investigation, he said.

On base Friday, residents expressed concern that the base’s loud speakers — called the Giant Voice System — were hard to understand and left them confused. One Marine wife questioned on Quantico’s official Facebook page why it took at least a half-hour to notify personnel that a shooting had occurred.

“I am appreciative of all the hard work and updates last night, but I am hoping this has shown the base that perhaps a more efficient system needs to be put in place to protect all residents and workers,” she said.

Staff writer Gina Harkins contributed to this report.

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