By Seth Littrell
CNHI News Service
— A Kentucky native working at the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard where a gunman killed 12 people Monday credits a mountain of paperwork for his own survival.
Earl "Larry" Lovings said he had just sat down at his desk in the shipyard’s Building 201 on Monday morning when an armed shooter entered Building 197, just 200 feet away. If not for the backlog of work at his desk, Lovings said he might have been in the building at the time.
"I usually go in and out of that building three or four times a day," said Lovings, a native of Madison County, Ky.
The shooter, identified by federal law enforcement officials as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, was reported to be a contractor doing computer work for the Navy. He was shot to death in a gun battle with police after killing 12 people and wounding eight others, authorities said.
A former Navy service member, Lovings said he and others in his building tried to keep as quiet as possible and moved to two rooms for safety. From there, he had a bird's eye view of what was happening nearby.
"I saw one person, who had been injured themselves, bring two other injured people to the roof of the building (197)," Lovings said. "The Capitol Police helicopter, with a police sniper, landed and took them away."
He then described how law enforcement officers landed on and secured the roof of the building, effectively sealing the gunman inside. Once all possible exits from the building were guarded, Lovings said an "alphabet soup" of federal agencies, including the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI, entered 197 to evacuate the building and search for the shooter.
Lovings said the he and others at the yard were stunned by the massacre.
"We were all just in shock that this was someone who had access (to the facility)," he said. "Could we have prevented it? Maybe, maybe not. Naval Sea System Command lost 12 men and women to a senseless act of violence."
Details for this story were reported by The Richmond (Ky.) Register.