September 16, 2013

Cornell Community in D.C. Reflects on Navy Yard Shooting

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A former Navy reservist killed at least 12 people and injured eight at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. on Monday morning, sparking fears and anxiety about the safety of Cornellians in the capitol.

The alleged gunman was able to enter the secure military facility using official credentials, according to The New York Times. The man was later shot and killed by police.

Beth Hansen ’14, whose family members have served in the Navy and worked at both the Pentagon and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., said she was very worried once she heard there had been a shooting at the Navy Yard.

“That’s when the panic set in, because I’m familiar with the area, with the Navy Yard,” she said. Hansen said that, later on, she was able to find out that her family members were unaffected by the shooting.

Other students said that the atmosphere was chaotic as news of the shooting came in.

Lauren Avery ’15, a senior news writer for The Sun who is spending the semester in D.C., said the mood was “very tense.” People were confused about what was happening, and although the Navy Yard is approximately five miles away from Cornell in Washington’s headquarters, she and other program participants were worried.

“I think it’s a miracle more people were not hurt. It’s horrible, and it made me very scared to work [in D.C.],” Avery said.

Although the scene in downtown D.C. seemed “chaotic,” everything seemed normal at the Cornell in Washington program throughout the day Monday, Avery said.

“Things are pretty ‘business as usual.’ We’re pretty far from where the incident happened. People know about [the shooting] now, and people were very worried about their friends and classmates who were working closer to where everything happened,” Avery said. “But as far as I know, nobody had trouble getting to and from work.”

Eva Xu ’15, another Cornell in Washington participant, said she was not sure what exactly had happened, but she received an email from her supervisor noting the importance of staying safe.

“I didn’t actually know what was going on, but I got an email from my boss at the beginning of the day saying to be careful,” she said.

University officials from Cornell in Washington were unable to be reached for comment as of Monday night.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray told The Washington Post Monday that there is no clear motive behind the shooting yet, and that although it’s a possibility, there is “no reason to believe” it was an act of terror.

Hansen added, however, that she was confident in the D.C. police’s ability to contain high-stress situations, and that remaining calm is the most effective way of handling the crisis.

“I think that’s more effective to the law enforcement officers, who are prepared to deal with this,” she said. “If there was an underlying plan, the D.C. police would have been on top of it.”