facebook linkedin twitter

Pentagon IDs Officer Killed in Violence Outside Building

August 4, 2021by Lolita C. Baldor, Eric Tucker and Michael Balsamo, Associated Press
This undated photo provided by the Pentagon Force Protection Agency shows Pentagon Police Officer George Gonzalez. On Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, Gonzalez died after being stabbed during a burst of violence at a transit center outside the Pentagon building, and a suspect was shot by law enforcement and died at the scene. (Pentagon Force Protection Agency via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon police force on Wednesday identified the officer who was fatally stabbed at a transit center outside the Pentagon.

The Pentagon Force Protection Agency said Officer George Gonzalez was a New York native and Army veteran who served in Iraq. He’d been on the police force for three years. He died after being stabbed during a burst of violence at a transit center outside the building, and a suspect was shot by law enforcement and died at the scene.

The Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. military, was temporarily placed on lockdown Tuesday after a man attacked the officer on a bus platform shortly after 10:30 a.m. The ensuing violence, which included a volley of gunshots, resulted in “several casualties,” said Woodrow Kusse, the chief of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, which is responsible for security in the facility.

The suspect was identified by multiple law enforcement officials as Austin William Lanz, 27, of Georgia.

The officer was ambushed by Lanz, who ran at him and stabbed him in the neck, according to two of the law enforcement officials. Responding officers then shot and killed Lanz. Investigators were still trying to determine a motive for the attack and were digging into Lanz’s background, including any potential history of mental illness or any reason he might want to target the Pentagon or police officers.

The officials could not discuss the investigation publicly and spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity.

Lanz had enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in October 2012 but was “administratively separated” less than a month later and never earned the title Marine, the Corps said in a statement.

Lanz was arrested in April in Cobb County, Georgia, on criminal trespassing and burglary charges, according to online court records. The same day, a separate criminal case was filed against Lanz with six additional charges, including two counts of aggravated battery on police, a count of making a terrorist threat and a charge for rioting in a penal institution, the records show.

A judge reduced his bond in May to $30,000 and released him, imposing some conditions, including that he not ingest illegal drugs and that he undergo a mental health evaluation. The charges against him were still listed as pending. A spokesman for the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Lanz had been previously held at the agency’s detention center but referred all other questions to the FBI’s field office in Washington.

An attorney who represented Lanz in the Georgia cases didn’t immediately respond to a phone message and email seeking comment, and messages left with family members at Lanz’s home in the Atlanta suburb of Acworth, Georgia, were not immediately returned.

Tuesday’s attack on a busy stretch of the Washington area’s transportation system jangled the nerves of a region already primed to be on high alert for violence and potential intruders outside federal government buildings, particularly following the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

At a Pentagon news conference, Kusse declined to confirm that the officer had been killed or provide even basic information about how the violence had unfolded or how many might be dead. He would only say that an officer had been attacked and that “gunfire was exchanged.”

Kusse and other officials declined to rule out terrorism or provide any other potential motive. But Kusse said the Pentagon complex was secure and “we are not actively looking for another suspect at this time.” He said the FBI was leading the investigation.

“I can’t compromise the ongoing investigation,” Kusse said. 

The FBI confirmed only that it was investigating and there was “no ongoing threat to the public” but declined to offer details or a possible motive.

Later Tuesday, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency issued a statement confirming the loss of the officer, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed his condolences and said flags at the Pentagon will be flown at half-staff.

“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,” Austin said in a statement. “This tragic death today is a stark reminder of the dangers they face and the sacrifices they make. We are forever grateful for that service and the courage with which it is rendered.”

The attack occurred on a Metro bus platform that is part of the Pentagon Transit Center, a hub for subway and bus lines. The station is steps from the Pentagon building, which is in Arlington County, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington.

An Associated Press reporter near the building heard multiple gunshots, then a pause, then at least one additional shot. Another AP journalist heard police yelling “shooter.”

A Pentagon announcement said the facility was on lockdown, but that was lifted after noon, except for the area around the crime scene.

Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were at the White House meeting with President Joe Biden at the time of the shooting. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Austin returned to the building and went to the Pentagon police operations center to speak to the officers there.

It was not immediately clear whether any additional security measures might be instituted in the area.

In 2010, two officers with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency were wounded when a gunman approached them at a security screening area. The officers, who survived, returned fire, fatally wounding the gunman, identified as John Patrick Bedell.

_____

Associated Press writers Colleen Long and Michael Biesecker in Washington and Matthew Barakat and Sagar Meghani in Arlington, Virginia, contributed to this report.

Law Enforcement

October 21, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
FBI Raids DC Home of Russian Oligarch Allegedly Linked to 2016 Influence-Peddling

WASHINGTON -- An FBI search of the Washington, D.C. home of a Russian oligarch this week is moving the Justice... Read More

WASHINGTON -- An FBI search of the Washington, D.C. home of a Russian oligarch this week is moving the Justice Department into the political minefield that comes from mixing foreign policy with legal enforcement. The FBI conducted what it called "law enforcement activity" at the home... Read More

October 13, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Veterans in Violent, Extremist Groups Prompt Response Plan from Congress

WASHINGTON -- Fallout from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol continued Wednesday as a congressional panel looked at... Read More

WASHINGTON -- Fallout from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol continued Wednesday as a congressional panel looked at why veterans would become violent against the country they swore to protect. Representatives of veterans groups and academics blamed mental health problems, underemployment, racism and disenchantment... Read More

October 5, 2021
by Dan McCue
Man in Custody After ‘Suspicious’ Vehicle Parks Outside Supreme Court

WASHINGTON - U.S. Capitol Police took a 55-year-old Michigan man into custody Tuesday after he was “extracted” from what law... Read More

WASHINGTON - U.S. Capitol Police took a 55-year-old Michigan man into custody Tuesday after he was “extracted” from what law enforcement described as a “suspicious vehicle” parked near the Supreme Court building. "One of our teams just moved in and extracted the man from the SUV.... Read More

Capitol Police Chief Sees Rising Threats

WASHINGTON (AP) — The newly installed chief of the U.S. Capitol Police says the force, still struggling six months after... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — The newly installed chief of the U.S. Capitol Police says the force, still struggling six months after an insurrection that left its officers battled, bloodied and bruised, "cannot afford to be complacent." The risk to lawmakers is higher than ever. And the threat... Read More

September 23, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Flight Attendants Ask for Tougher Law Enforcement Against Air Rage

WASHINGTON -- Teddy Andrews said Thursday he was trying to smooth over a dispute between airline passengers when he approached... Read More

WASHINGTON -- Teddy Andrews said Thursday he was trying to smooth over a dispute between airline passengers when he approached a man who refused to wear a mask. A female passenger had approached the flight attendant to say she was concerned about contracting coronavirus from the... Read More

September 17, 2021
by Dan McCue
Authorities Say They’re Ready, Come What May, for Saturday’s J6 Rally

WASHINGTON -- Empty streets, a large police presence and a smattering of tourists taking photographs of the newly installed security... Read More

WASHINGTON -- Empty streets, a large police presence and a smattering of tourists taking photographs of the newly installed security fence lent a somber air to Capitol Hill Friday as preparations continued for Saturday’s J6 rally. It was a reminder, despite the remaining summer foliage, of... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top