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NAVSEA Shooting: Attack Targeted Naval Command Headquarters

Monday's mass shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington DC involved up to three gunman, according to the latest reports from DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier. One suspect is dead, while two possible suspects remain at large. The attack involved "multiple victims" killed, but the official tolls have not yet been reported. Two suspects who may be at large are reportedly wearing military-style clothing, but their identities have not been confirmed, nor is any connection to the military known at this time.

The shooters targeted the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters (NAVSEA), the largest of the United States Navy's five systems commands operations.

Washington's Navy Yard offices employ a total of 60,000 civilian, military, and contracted personnel. It is the oldest shore establishment of the U.S. Navy. The area consists of four shipyards, nine "warfare centers" (two under sea and seven surface), and four major ship-building locations and the NAVSEA headquarters, located at the Washington DC Navy Yard site in Southeast Washington.

(Latrobe Gate, Ceremonial Entrance to Washington's Navy Yard)

The mission at NAVSEA is to "design, build, deliver and maintain ships and systems on time and on cost for the U.S. Navy." This means its team of engineers, buys, builds and maintains ships, submarines and combat systems for the Navy's current and future operational needs. The command has an annual budget of nearly $30 billion, accounting for one quarter of the Navy's entire budget.

NAVSEA is a high-security facility due to the sensitivity of the information handled by the command. It is inside the Navy Yard, itself a military installation that does not allow public access. The Sea Systems Command headquarters has another element of security, requiring an additional badge with turnstiles similar to the Pentagon. It is unclear how the shooter(s) entered the secure Naval Yard or the additionally secured NAVSEA building.

The NAVSEA building targeted by gunmen Monday morning reportedly had 3,000 people inside at the time. The Navy Yard area is home to a popular DC Metro stop on the Green Line. Security in the area is heightened as buses have been re-routed and traffic has been cleared from the scene.

Security has been increased at the Pentagon as a "proactive, precautionary measure," said Department of Defense spokesman George Little. He said navy officials are working with law enforcement and the FBI "to secure the scene and begin the investigation".

It remains unclear why employees in the NAVSEA offices in Washington DC's Navy Yard were targeted in Monday's attack.

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