‘I Miss Her Already’: Profiles Of The Navy Yard Victims Emerge

September 17, 2013

The victims of the Navy Yard Shootings that brought panic and tragedy to a corner of Washington, D.C., on Monday morning are in many people's thoughts as their names and other information are released.

We'll collect what we know about the victims here.

The identities of the 13 people, including the gunman, who died and at least eight who were wounded are being released by officials as family members are informed of the victims' status. So far, police have identified seven of the people who were slain, in addition to the alleged shooter, Aaron Alexis, 34.

Tuesday morning, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and other officials held a wreath-laying ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial plaza to honor the victims of the attack, which occurred around 8:20 a.m. in Building 197 of the Navy Yard, a popular morning spot with a breakfast cafeteria.

Several of those who were hurt or killed Monday had worked at the Navy Yard for decades. These seven people have been identified as having died in the attack:

Michael Arnold, 59, of Lorton, Va., was a "wonderful person and a wonderful neighbor," a neighbor told The Washington Post. She was on her way to visit Arnold's wife, in an attempt to comfort her.

A retired Navy officer who was working as a consultant on ship design, Arnold was also a pilot who was building his own airplane, his uncle, Steve Hunter, told The Associated Press in an interview from Rochester, Mich., where Arnold grew up.

"Arnold and his wife, Jolanda, had been married for more than 30 years," the AP reports, citing Hunter. "They had two grown sons, Eric and Christopher."

Sylvia Frasier, 53, of Charles County, Md., worked in computer network security at the Naval Sea Systems Command. Word of her fate didn't reach some family members until just before 10 p.m. last night, The Post says.

Frasier's family, including her six siblings, tell the newspaper that they had been told earlier Monday that Sylvia had been hurt and was in the hospital. But they prepared themselves for the worst.

Kathy Gaarde, 62, of Woodbridge, Va., was a financial analyst who a neighbor says may have been close to retiring; her husband retired from the Navy last year, the AP reports.

"Today my life partner of 42 years (38 of them married) was taken from me, my grown son and daughter, and friends," her husband, Douglass Gaarde, wrote in an email to the news agency. 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."

A neighbor, Patrick Bolton, tells The Post that Gaarde "was just the kindest lady in the world." He added, "I'm not even exaggerating. I've never seen her do anything but nice things for people."

John Roger Johnson, 73, was a longtime resident of Derwood, Md., a neighbor tells The Post, who loved kids.

A friend and former co-worker, William Venable, tells NPR's Hansi Lo Wang that Johnson, or J.J., was his colleague in the IT department, doing things like distributing cellphones and wireless cards. The job could be tedious — but every day, Venable said, Johnson greeted him with the same enthusiasm.

"His greeting to me — every day, religiously — was, 'How ya doin' buddy?!'"

"I'm a 20-something year-old black man, and he's a 70-plus-year-old white guy," Venable says. "You know, we had zero in common. But we had great conversations, and he was a great spirit, it was a spirit that you could connect with. He was one of my best friends in that place."

Frank Kohler, 50, of St. Mary's Co., Md., also died in Monday's attack.

"Kohler, 50, of Tall Timbers was reportedly married with two daughters," reports The Baynet.com. "It is not known at this time what he was doing at the Navy Yard."

Vishnu Pandit, 61, had lived in North Potomac, Md., for at least 20 years, The Post reports.

A neighbor tells the newspaper they saw many cars arrive at the Pandit family's house late Monday. Another neighbor, Mike Honig, described Pandit as "a very nice man with an Irish setter," The Post says.

Few other details have emerged about Pandit. His family has elected not to comment publicly at this point.

Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46, Waldorf, Md., was a civilian utilities foreman who had worked for the government for 22 years, his ex-wife, Evelyn Proctor, tells the AP. He was, she says, "a very loving, caring, gentle person. His kids meant a lot to him."

The couple have two teenage sons — one is 15; the other is in basic training after enlisting in the Army.

Evelyn Proctor says her ex-husband didn't work in Building 197, but had gone there for his usual breakfast. And they had talked on the phone Monday morning. She learned of his death Monday evening.

"We were still very close. It wasn't a bitter divorce," she said. The pair had dated as far back as high school. "We still talked every day, and we lived 10 minutes away from each other."

Several other people have been identified by The Post as victims who died — we're awaiting official word before we publish their names.

Of at least eight people who were wounded Monday, three were shot and the rest reportedly suffered other injuries.

Police officer Scott Williams underwent surgery after suffering gunshot wounds to his legs. D.C. officials said he is recovering and talkative. At a news conference Monday night, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said she and Williams entered the police force around the same time and that he has "a stellar record."

And it seems that Mr. Williams is also a man with priorities.

"The police officer when he came in ... he was most concerned about being able to talk to his mother," Dr. Janis Orlowski, chief medical officer at Washington Hospital Center, tells NPR member station WAMU.  Williams "wanted to make sure that he was able to speak to her before he went into surgery. You know... you always have to take care of mom," she said.

Williams and two civilians, both women, were all able to talk with medical and police staff and are expected to recover, Orlowski says. One of the women had surgery for a wound to her shoulder; the other did not need surgery, despite a wound to her head.

"She's a very, very lucky young lady," Orlowski says. "She had an injury to her hand and her head. But the bullet did not actually penetrate the skull. It did not penetrate the bone."

Story source: NPR