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Quantico Triple Shooting Inquiry to be Lengthy

By Potomac Local March 22, 2013 8:30 am

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Quantico Marine Corps Base Commander Col. David W. Maxwell addresses media following the shooting deaths of three Marines under his command. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

Quantico Marine Corps Base Commander Col. David W. Maxwell addresses media following the shooting deaths of three Marines under his command. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

By URIAH KISER

QUANTICO, Va. – Officials at Quantico Marine Corps Base today are mourning the loss of three active duty Marines.

An armed staff member of the Officer Candidate School shot and killed two other staff members —  male and female Marines — and then took his own life. All three victims were assigned staff members at the prestigious Officers Candidate School, OCS, an institution charged with molding Marines into officers.

A 911 call went out about 10:30 p.m. Thursday, and that’s when base officials learned the first victim, identified only as a male, had been shot and killed. About two hours later, military police with assistance from Prince William police entered the Taylor Hall barracks at OCS and found the female victim shot dead, and the shooter dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

It’s unclear what transpired between the time the first shooting victim was found and the discovery of the bodies of the second victim and shooter.

“It’s been a very long night on Quantico Marine Corps Base,” said Base Commander Col. David W. Maxwell. “Our condolences go out to the families and friends of the Marines we lost.”

A full scale investigation into the shootings is underway here at the base known as the crossroads of the Marine Corps. The names of the victims will be released after all first of kin notifications are completed, said Maxwell, who declined to take questions during the press conference citing the sensitive nature of the investigation.

It’s unclear what relationship the three Marines shared.

“We anticipate this to be a lengthy investigation, and as we begin to comfort and take care of our Marines here, we ask for the thoughts and support of our neighbors in the surrounding areas at this difficult time,” said Maxwell.

More to the Story: Read our breaking coverage as the shootings unfolded

The OCS campus lies on the southern most point on the main side of the base along the Potomac River. It’s here that that every would-be Marine Corps officer trains to become a leader. The process can take as long as six months, and officer candidates — all on various career tracks – are exposed to rigorous training available in areas like squad basics, navigation, and physical fitness.

On Friday morning, Quantico officials did not have exact figures of how many officer candidates there are enrolled at the school, but they said the numbers continually fluctuate up and down.

Confusion

During the overnight ordeal, a voice over a loudspeaker known as the Giant Voice System permeated the unseasonably frigid air, continually telling residents to stay indoors. Maxwell today credited the system with helping to disseminate important information to those who live behind Quanitco’s walls.

But as information about the fluid situation flowed out to members of the press, some of it became distorted. Initially, officials reported the shooter had been taken into custody shortly after the first shooting victim had been located. Only a short time later, we learned the shooter was still at large, but were told police knew the exact location of the shooter.

Knowing that he had already killed one person, officials then incorrectly reported the shooter was holed up in a barricade situation with police.

“There have been false reports in the media about a barricade or standoff situation between the shooter and police. That did not occur,” said Maxwell.

High alert

The base’s threat condition was elevated during the ordeal to Delta – the highest of any threat level on a military base. It’s used to warn of a potential terrorist attack, or to signal an active terrorist threat. Under Threat Con Delta, only military personnel were allowed on and off the base. That meant vehicles waiting to pass through Quantico’s main security gate, including a local OmniLink transit bus taking passengers to and from the tiny civilian Town of Quantico located inside the sprawling base, was held up for hours.

After the shooter and the female victim were found dead inside Taylor Hall, base officials at 2:30 a.m. lowered the threat level back to green and base

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[Photo; Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

operations returned to normal.

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