WASHINGTON — A gunman coolly drew a weapon from his pocket and opened fire at the teeming subway entrance to the Pentagon complex Thursday evening, wounding two police officers before being shot and critically wounded, officials said.
Authorities said all three were taken to a hospital. Richard Keevill, chief of Pentagon police, said the two officers suffered grazing wounds that were not life-threatening.
The suspect, believed to be a U.S. citizen, walked up to a security checkpoint at the Pentagon in an apparent attempt to get inside the Defense Department headquarters, at about 6:40 p.m. (2340 GMT) "He just reached in his pocket, pulled out a gun and started shooting," Keevill said. "He walked up very cool. He had no real emotion on his face." The Pentagon officers returned fire with semiautomatic weapons.
Of the suspect, the chief said, "His injury is pretty critical."
The rush-hour assault happened outside a massively fortified building that nevertheless is near busy crowds of transit riders.
The subway station is immediately adjacent to the Pentagon building. Since a redesign following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon, riders can no longer disembark directly into the building. Riders take a long escalator ride to the surface from the underground station, then pass through a security check outside the doors of the building, where further security awaits.
In the immediate aftermath, all Pentagon entrances were secured, then all were reopened except one from the subway, said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.
A Pentagon official working late in the building said people inside first heard of the shooting on television. They were later told the building was locked down and to stay in place. The huge five-sided building is crisscrossed by 10 main corridors.
Then at around 7:30 p.m. (0040 GMT, Friday), they heard an announcement on the public address system that they could leave through Corridor 3 — one widely used to get access to one of the parking lots.
"We really don't know anything, just that we can leave now through that corridor," one official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak about the incident. (AP)