Soldier dies after shooting at Fort Lee - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Soldier dies after shooting at Fort Lee

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A heavy police presence remained at Fort Lee after an all clear was given to an active shooter situation (Source: NBC12) A heavy police presence remained at Fort Lee after an all clear was given to an active shooter situation (Source: NBC12)
Fort Lee was locked down for approximately 30 minutes due to an active shooter report (Source: NBC12) Fort Lee was locked down for approximately 30 minutes due to an active shooter report (Source: NBC12)

An Army veteran who served more than a decade is dead after shooting herself in the head. The tense moments on post led to tense moments that sent ripples of fear and confusion through the Fort Lee community.

Monday morning, a commander gave us a heads up that the female soldier's injuries were serious. According to leaders on post, the Sergeant First Class went on a tirade in an office moments before turning the gun on herself.

At the height of the chaos, no one could enter or leave Ft. Lee for an entire hour.

"We knew there was a threat but we didn't know exactly what the motive was or the capability. We knew she had a weapon," said Commander Stephen Lyons.

Lyons says just before 9 Monday morning, the unidentified soldier went on a rant, barricading herself in a 3rd floor office. Negotiators tried to get the Iraqi war veteran to come out but it didn't work. She shot herself in the head and was later pronounced dead at VCU medical.

"We're close enough where we could hear their public address system. The only audible thing I could hear was they were telling all personnel to seek immediate shelter," said Chris Bryce of the Petersburg National Battlefield.

The national park borders Fort Lee. As soon as the post went on lock down, so did the battlefield.
"We had a guy do the same thing in Vietnam," said Army veteran Randy Newcomb.

The sequence of events is eerily familiar for Randy Newcomb. A fellow soldier took his life while in Vietnam.

"We were right there together. He said he would be back in a minute. We didn't know what he was doing. We didn't have no idea and that's what he did…He said he had to go get something and next thing we knew we heard shots," Newcomb said.

In this case, the soldier was rushed to VCU Medical with serious injuries where she later died. Operations on post returned to normal within an hour.

"It hits home to you because its so close. You hear about it in other locations across the country and you never expect it to be right where you are," Bryce said.

"If you got any problems, go to somebody, talk to somebody. Don't do something drastic," Newcomb added.

The army post will not identify the female solider until her family has been notified of her death. There's no word if she was being treated for mental health issues but one thing is certain, the loss of one of their own now finds both civilians and soldiers in a state of mourning.

The most recent account of an active shooter on a U.S. military base was at the Naval Station Norfolk. Jeffery Savage allegedly shot a military police officer after boarding a naval ship. He was killed by a security officer.

In September of 2013, Aaron Alexis, a naval contractor shot and killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard. Alexis was killed by police.

The deadliest on-base active shooting incident was in 2009 when Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, shot and killed 13 people and wounded many others. In 2013, he was convicted on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.

The incident comes as the post was preparing to rollout Fort Lee Alert, a new system to notify the community in the event of an emergency. 

The system would be part of the Army's Emergency Management Modernization Program and would speed notification in times of crisis.

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