Families wait for news of D.C. Navy Yard victims

Posted at 6:00 PM, Sep 16, 2013
(CNN) — Wounded survivors of Monday’s shooting at the Washington Navy Yard are eligible for treatment at a U.S. military’ hospital, just as if they were soldiers wounded in war.
U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced that Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, is open to them as he visited two civilian Navy workers being treated at MedStar Washington Hospital Center Monday afternoon.
Twelve victims — and the suspected shooter — died as a result of Monday morning’s rampage at the headquarters for the Naval Sea Systems Command, officials said. The names of the dead have not been made public and many families anxiously await information about loved ones. It could take another day until everyone is accounted for, the Navy secretary said.
A maintenance worker who tried to warn others was among those shot, according to U.S. Navy Cmdr. Tim Jirus.
Cmdr. Jirus told CNN he was standing in an alley at the bottom of a fire escape supervising the evacuation of Building 197 when a worker from a nearby maintenance building approached him.
“He walked up and told me that he heard that there was a shooter in our building,” Jirus said. “And we were just standing there maybe three feet away having a conversation, and then we heard two more gunshots, and he went down and that’s when I ran.”
Jirus said he did not know the man. He was “fairly certain he is dead, because he was shot in the head.”
“I don’t feel lucky that he got hit instead of me, but I feel lucky to be here,” Jirus said.
At least one person, and possibly one other, opened fire, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray said. Police said one suspected shooter was killed.
The deaths include a man “in his 60s” who suffered a wound to his head. He was pronounced dead on arrival at George Washington University Hospital, a doctor said.
Dr. Babak Sarani said the man suffered a gunshot wound to his left temple.
Paramedics were unable to keep the man alive on the way to the hospital, said Sarani, chief of trauma and acute care at George Washington University Hospital. “Unfortunately, the injury was not survivable.”
Three other shooting victims who were flown to MedStar Washington Hospital Center are expected to survive, hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Janis Orlowski told reporters at a news conference about three hours after the attack began around 8:20 a.m. Monday.
Dr. Orlowski gave more details later in the day about her patients, including a Washington Metropolitan police officer who was in surgery Monday afternoon “for gunshot wounds that “involve bones and blood vessels of lower legs.”
“He was most concerned about being able to talk to his mother and wanted to make sure he was able to speak to her before he went into surgery,” Orlowski said. Doctors could know after another 24 hours about the police officer’s chances of walking again, she said.
The two other victims at MedStar Washington Hospital Center were women, including one shot in the shoulder and the other with a head wound, Orlowski said. A helicopter plucked one of the wounded women from a roof and carried her to the hospital, she said.
“Their chances of survival are very good,” she said. The patients are all in stable condition, she said.
The woman with the shoulder wound was “in very, very good spirits,” Orlowski said. “She’s actually ordering the doctors and nurses around, and we told her we are in charge here.” The woman, whose husband joined her at the hospital, was in surgery Monday afternoon, she said.
The other woman suffered a “significant wound” to her hand and head, but the bullet didn’t actually penetrate her skull, she said.
Her father rushed to the Navy Yard when he heard about the shooting, Orlowski said. He found her as paramedics were treating her on the scene, she said.
The three patients were each alert when they arrived at the hospital and they sometimes talked about the shooting, Orlowski said. The most common question was about the fate of their co-workers.
“They’re very worried about their colleagues,” she said. “It’s the only question that I’ve heard about the incident. We’ve not shared that with them.”
Mabus went to the hospital to check on the two women, who are Navy employees. “We got to meet one of the victims, a young woman and her family,” Maybus said. “She is, under the circumstances, doing very well. I also got to talk to the husband of the second victim, who is in surgery right now. But none of the injuries are expected to be life-threatening.”
Relatives of people who worked in Building 197 gathered near the Navy yard, hoping for information about their loved ones.
Jacqueline Alston said she has not heard from her husband, Ernest, who is a custodial worker there.
“Right now, I’m asking God to let me hear that voice, to let me see that man again,” Alston said. “All I know is, I’m supposed to be patient, which I am trying to hold on, being patient and understanding, and ask God what created this problem? What started this?”
Mabus said it could take 24 to 35 hours for Navy officials to account for everyone. He announced two telephone numbers people can call to check on family members who may have been at the Navy yard. The numbers are: 202-433-6151 and 202-433-9713
“When you call we will not be able to give you a status report,” Mabus said. “We’ll have to check and call back.”