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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE HAGEL LAYS WREATH TO HONOR NAVY YARD SHOOTING VICTIMS

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT
Hagel to Lay Wreath at Navy Memorial to Honor Shooting Victims
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2013 - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other senior Defense Department leaders will lay a wreath at the U.S. Navy Memorial plaza at 10 a.m. today to honor the victims of yesterday's shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard.

The wreath will be placed adjacent to "The Lone Sailor," who represents "all people who have ever served, are serving now, or are yet to serve in the United States Navy," Pentagon officials said.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has ordered that U.S. flags be flown at half-staff through sundown Sept. 20 to honor the victims.

Hagel issued a statement yesterday in the aftermath of the shooting spree that authorities said killed 12 people and wounded at least eight others. The suspected shooter was killed in an encounter with security personnel, officials said.

"I have been receiving regular updates on the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, and continue to monitor the situation closely," Hagel said in his statement. "This is a tragic day for the Department of Defense, the national capital area, and the nation. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this outrageous act of violence, their families, and all those affected by today's events.

"I am grateful for the swift response of federal and local law enforcement, and for the professionalism of DOD personnel at the Navy Yard complex," the secretary continued. "The Department of Defense will continue to offer its full assistance in the investigation of this terrible and senseless violence."

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said he was "deeply shocked and saddened" by the shooting.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families," he said. "I have complete confidence in our first responders, and I continue to be completely focused on this very difficult situation."

Mabus pledged his support in a video message to those affected by the shooting. Earlier in the day, during a news conference at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Mabus announced he had conferred "SECNAV Designee" status on injured personnel. The Secretary of the Navy Designee Program provides special eligibility for medical and dental care from naval medical facilities for patients affected by the shooting.

The Navy's top military officer also expressed condolences to the victims and their families on behalf of himself and his wife, Darleen.

"Our team of sailors and Navy civilians at the Navy Yard deserve our care and concern at this time," Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert said. "I applaud the efforts of all who immediately responded to this course of events in order to care for the injured victims and ensure the safety of our personnel."

Navy officials have established an emergency family support task force to assist victims, workers and families with related issues. The task force is led by Navy Vice. Adm. William D. French, commander of the Navy's Installations Command.