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Pentagon confirms officer killed in attack outside building

Officer killed in stabbing outside Pentagon
Officer killed in stabbing outside Pentagon 00:21

Washington — A Pentagon police officer was killed Tuesday morning in an incident at the Metro bus platform outside the building, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency confirmed. 

The incident took place around 10:40 a.m., when the suspect exited a bus at the Pentagon Transit Center and "immediately, without provocation," attacked the slain officer, identified as George Gonzalez, with a knife, the FBI said in a series of tweets Wednesday.

The bureau said "a struggle ensued," during which the assailant "mortally wounded" Gonzalez and shot himself with the officer's service weapon. The suspect died at the scene, while on civilian bystander was injured during the incident and transported to the hospital with non-threatening injuries, according to the FBI.

A three-year veteran of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, Gonzalez previously served in the military and various other federal agencies. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for his service in Iraq, the Pentagon said.

A federal official and the FBI confirmed that the deceased suspect has been identified as 27-year-old Austin Lanz of Georgia. A Marine Corps spokesperson said Lanz enlisted in the Marine Corps in October 2012 but was "administratively separated" in early November 2012, and never earned the title of Marine. 

Woodrow Kusse, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency's chief of Pentagon Police, told reporters during a press briefing officers were alerted to the attack by a radio call stating an "incident was underway."

The encounter, which Kusse said resulted in "several casualties," caused the Pentagon to go into lockdown for roughly an hour because of what the Pentagon Force Protection Agency said was a "shooting event" near the building's Metro transit center.

By Tuesday afternoon, Kusse said there was "no continuing threat to our community." The FBI is leading the investigation into the attack.

"The Pentagon and the Pentagon reservation are safe and secure," he said.

Law enforcement officers patrol the entrance of the Pentagon on August 3, 2021. OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Tuesday that he ordered that flags on the Pentagon reservation be flown at half staff.

"On behalf of everyone working at the Pentagon, and across the Department of Defense, I extend my deepest sympathies to the family, loved ones and colleagues of the Pentagon Force Protection Officer who died as a result of injuries he received this morning," Austin said in a statement. "This fallen officer died in the line of duty, helping protect the tens of thousands of people who work in — and who visit — the Pentagon on a daily basis."

The Pentagon Force Protection Agency asked members of the public just after 11 a.m. to avoid the area, and the Arlington County Fire Department said on Twitter its units were "responding to a reported active violence incident" near the Pentagon's Metro stop. Arlington County first responders encountered "multiple patients," the fire department said.

Warnings sounded on intercoms throughout the facility telling all those inside to remain indoors "due to police activity outside." 

Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley were not at the Pentagon during the time of the incident, a U.S. defense official said, but were at the White House for a regularly scheduled meeting.

About an hour after the Pentagon Force Protection Agency announced the lockdown, citing "an incident at the Pentagon Transit Center," the agency said the "scene of the incident is secure" but remains an active crime scene. 

"We request that everyone stay away from the Metro rail entrance and bus platform area," it said on Twitter.

The Pentagon Force Protection Agency announced just before 12:15 p.m. that the lockdown was lifted and the facility reopened.

Pat Milton and Andres Triay contributed to this report.

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