Submitted by Nancy Morris
(AP) — A dozen people died in a shooting rampage Monday, September 17, at the Washington Navy Yard. The shooter also was killed.
It was the deadliest attack at a domestic military installation since November 2009, when an Army psychiatrist killed 13 people and wounded 30 others at Fort Hood, Texas. The stories of the 12 who were gunned down and a police officer who survived are told here.
Michael Arnold, 59, of Lorton, Va., was a Navy veteran and avid pilot who was building a light airplane at his home, said his uncle, Steve Hunter.
“It would have been the first plane he ever owned,” Hunter said in a telephone interview from Rochester, Mich., Arnold’s hometown. “It’s partially assembled in his basement.”
Hunter said his nephew retired from the Navy as a commander or lieutenant commander and had previously been stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. He worked at the Navy Yard on a team that designed vessels such as the USS Makin Island, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship used by the Marine Corps.
Arnold and his wife, Jolanda, had been married for more than 30 years, Hunter said. They had two grown sons, Eric and Christopher.
Martin Bodrog, 54, lived on a quiet, tree-shaded cul-de-sac in Annandale, Va., where family and friends gathered Tuesday.
Jeff Prowse, a close friend of Bodrog and family spokesman, said Bodrog was a hardworking Navy veteran and graduate of the Naval Academy who cared deeply about his family, his friends and his country.
“A heart of gold, and one of the most humble, self-effacing guys,” said Prowse, a burly ex-Marine who paused several times to fight back tears as he talked.
Bodrog had been married for 25 years to Melanie, whom he met while she was serving on active duty as a Navy nurse. The couple have three daughters, ages 23, 17 and 16.
Sylvia Frasier, 53, of Waldorf, Md., had worked at Naval Sea Systems Command as an information assurance manager since 2000, according to a LinkedIn profile in her name.
Frasier studied at Strayer University, earning a bachelor of science in computer information systems in 2000 and a master’s in information systems in 2002. Her duties at NAVSEA included providing policy and guidance on network security, and assuring that all computer systems operated by the headquarters met Department of Navy and Department of Defense requirements.
She also led efforts “to establish and implement procedures to investigate security violations or incidents,” according to the profile.
Her brother, James Frasier, declined comment Monday night.
Kathleen Gaarde, 63, of Woodbridge, Va., was a financial analyst who supported the organization responsible for the shipyards, her husband, Douglass, wrote in an email to the AP Tuesday.
Douglass Gaarde declined to speak, but wrote that he was unable to sleep.
“Today my life partner of 42 years (38 of them married) was taken from me, my grown son and daughter, and friends,” he wrote. “We were just starting to plan our retirement activities and now none of that matters. It hasn’t fully sunk in yet but I know I already dearly miss her.”
Logistics analyst John Roger Johnson, 73, was perhaps most notorious for his bear hugs, his daughter said.
“Rib-crunchers,” Megan Johnson said with a laugh as she remembered her dad Tuesday. “You didn’t have to pay for a chiropractor.”
The Derwood, Md., man — the oldest of the victims in Monday’s shootings — graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash. He studied mathematics, but he went into the field of reliability engineering, said Megan Johnson, third-youngest of his four daughters.
Johnson would have celebrated his 74th birthday on Oct. 7. He also leaves his wife of more than eight years, Judy, and four stepchildren.
Frank Kohler, 50, was a past president of the Rotary Club in Lexington Park, Md. As such, he proudly held the title of “King Oyster” at the annual festival celebrating the region’s signature bivalve the third weekend of each October.
“He walks around with a crown and robe and gives out candy,” said Bob Allen, Kohler’s former boss at Lockheed Martin in southern Maryland. “In fact, he was in charge of the beer stand. I used to have that job and when I left, I handed it off to him.”
The married father of two college-age daughters had driven up to the Washington Navy Yard for a meeting Monday when the shootings occurred, friends told Allen. Allen said Kohler had taken over for him as site manager for the defense contractor.
Kohler lived on the water with his wife, Michelle, an employee at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Allen said his friend loved to boat and fish, and went on frequent hunting trips to Canada.
“A great family man, a Christian, and a great friend,” he said. “It just doesn’t seem possible. I mean, you hear about these things all the time … But when you know somebody, it just makes it all the worse … It’s a huge loss for southern Maryland.”
Information technology specialist Mary Knight, 51, of Reston, Va., had recently received a big promotion and witnessed the marriage of her older daughter, her mother said.
Knight was born in Germany. When she was about 10, the family was transferred to Fort Bragg, N.C.
Liliana DeLorenzo, a native of Trieste, Italy, said her daughter attended local schools and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“She was a No. 1 student,” the proud mother said. “She always liked to go to school.”
Knight, the oldest of three children, had recently been promoted at work to GS 15 — the top civil service pay grade, her mother said. Last month, her older daughter, Nicole, 25, married a soldier.
Marine engineer and naval architect Vishnu Pandit, 61, was a hard-working Indian immigrant, known for his devotion family, community and his 30-year civilian Navy career.
“He was very dedicated to improving the performance of naval ships and systems,” longtime friend M. Nuns Jain said Tuesday outside the North Potomac, Md., home where Pandit’s family privately mourned. “The only saving grace in this horrible incident is that he died doing what he loved the most in the service of his nation.”
Jain said Pandit, a Mumbai native, earned a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering in India in 1973 before coming to America and earning a degree in naval architecture from the University of Michigan.
Married to his wife Anjali since 1978, Pandit had two sons and a granddaughter, Jain said.
Kenneth Proctor, 46, worked as a civilian utilities foreman at the Navy Yard, his ex-wife, Evelyn Proctor, said. He spent 22 years working for the federal government, Evelyn Proctor said.
The Waldorf, Md., woman spoke to Kenneth early Monday morning before he left for work at the Navy Yard. It was his regular call. The high school sweethearts talked every day, even after they divorced this year after 19 years of marriage, and they shared custody of their two teenage sons.
She was in shock about her ex-husband’s death.
The Proctors married in 1994 and divorced this year. Their older son, Kenneth Proctor Jr., 17, enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school this spring and is in basic training in Oklahoma. Their younger son, Kendull Proctor, is 15.
Gerald L. Read’s son-in-law, Michael Giffin, said his family was not ready to speak yet about the 58-year-old’s death.
“We’re still trying to gather our thoughts,” said Giffin, who is married to Read’s daughter, Jessica. Read was from Alexandria, Va.
Richard Michael Ridgell, 52, was a passionate protector, both in his security work and in the way he treated his daughters during game-day trips to M&T Field to root for his beloved Baltimore Ravens.
“He was all about protecting us,” said daughter Megan outside her mother’s Westminster home. She remembered her father guardedly eyeing other spectators as they climbed to their upper-tier seats, making sure she was safe in the roaring crowd.
Ridgell, a former Maryland State Police trooper, was working for a private security contractor at the Washington Navy Yard. Family members said they didn’t know details about Ridgell’s death.
His children and estranged wife, Tracey, say they want him remembered as a loving, funny and patriotic man who found satisfaction as a security contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan; as a drummer in the all-volunteer Baltimore Colts Marching Band before the Ravens era; and as a successful softball coach to all three daughters, Heather, 33, Megan, 19, and Maddi, 17.
“He was so much more than a shooting victim. He was an amazing person,” Megan said.
Metropolitan Police Department Officer Scott Williams was shot multiple times in the legs, but survived.
After visiting Williams, Police Chief Cathy Lanier said he has some “pretty serious injuries” and is “pretty uncomfortable” but “in good spirits.”
Williams is an officer in the K9 division. He underwent surgery Monday, and before he did, he wanted to call his mother, according to Janis Orlowski, the chief medical officer of MedStar Washington Hospital Center where the officer was recovering Tuesday.
Orlowski initially said Williams had bone and blood vessel damage and there was “concern” about whether he would be able to walk again. But she said Williams, who she estimated to be in his late 40s, was in fair and stable condition.
Lanier also said she was sure Williams would walk again.
“I’m real confident that he not only will walk again but probably will outrun most of us once again,” she said.