Report: Superiors told Capitol Police SWAT team to stand down during Navy Yard massacre?

posted at 6:01 pm on September 18, 2013 by Allahpundit

I thought the biggest scandal to come from the shooting today would be the fact that the Pentagon didn’t run a full background check on this guy when he was re-hired as a contractor in July. All they did, which is apparently standard practice, was check to make sure his security clearance from 2007 was still intact. No interviews with family members, co-workers, or employers; if there had been, maybe someone would have tipped them to the fact of his mental problems.

But no, that’s not the biggest scandal if this BBC report is right. This … can’t possibly be true, can it?

Multiple sources in the Capitol Police department have told the BBC that its highly trained and heavily armed four-man Containment and Emergency Response Team (Cert) was near the Navy Yard when the initial report of an active shooter came in about 8:20 local time.

The officers, wearing full tactical gear and armed with HK-416 assault weapons, arrived outside Building 197 a few minutes later, an official with knowledge of the incident told the BBC.

According to a Capitol Police source, an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Washington DC’s main municipal force, told the Capitol Cert officers they were the only police on the site equipped with long guns and requested their help stopping the gunman.

When the Capitol Police team radioed their superiors, they were told by a watch commander to leave the scene, the BBC was told.

Alexis wasn’t finally taken down until shortly after 9 a.m., more than 40 minutes later. “Odds are it might have had a different outcome,” said the head of the Capitol Police officers’ union, noting that the “Cert” team guys are expert marksmen and trained for live-shooter situations. The Metropolitan PD says none of this is true, but the BBC claims to have multiple sources within Capitol PD corroborating it. I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t be allowed to go in and liquidate Alexis, unless it’s some sort of moronic jurisdictional issue in which the Capitol PD is expected to stick to the grounds of the Capitol itself. (The Senate’s sergeant-at-arms denied that when the BBC asked her.) To paraphrase the old gun-rights saying: When seconds count, the police are … seconds away, actually, but forced to stand by while a maniac picks unarmed people off with a shotgun. There’s another argument for concealed carry.

The 24-hour rule is in effect, but the Beeb must be confident if it was willing to drop a bombshell with this kind of payload.

Update: I’m loath to spend any more time on the degenerate responsible for the shooting but people are curious about the motive and there are a lot of breadcrumbs about that being shaken loose in the media today. Some friends say he was “not happy with America” and wanted to leave, some say that he was angry in part at being rejected last year by a woman in Thailand he was pursuing, but whatever it was appears to have been filtered through an increasingly incoherent mind:

Aaron Alexis carved bizarre phrases on the stock of his shotgun before he killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, and investigators are hoping the words provide clues to what prompted the shooting, two law enforcement officials said.

The phrases were “Better off this way” and “My ELF weapon,” according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Cops think “ELF” might have been a reference to “extremely low frequency,” which may or may not have something to do with disrupting the “vibrations” Alexis claims were being sent through his body by the imaginary people who were following him.

Anyone, enough about him. Here’s Tapper with a report on the victims of the shooting.

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Excuse me for being breathtakingly stupid, but in what way does the presence of a highly trained SWAT team correlate to the expedient removal of a madman with a firearm?

…because I’m a democrat. I need this explained to me.


No. Seriously, even I’m not that stupid.

thejackal on September 19, 2013 at 5:57 PM

I’ll lay odds it’s jurisdiction.

Steve Eggleston on September 18, 2013 at 6:07 PM

I haven’t seen anything more on this story — looks like it has headed down the “we’re waiting for the results of the investigation before commenting” rabbit hole.

But I think you are spot on with your comment. Readers may not be aware of this, but Washington, D.C. is a town with a veritable slew of separate law enforcement agencies (probably around 30 of them), each one of them with specialized jurisdictional authority, depending on the locus of the alleged offense, who the likely victim(s) may be, and who the likely perp(s) are. And several of those agencies have a significant uniformed presence throughout the city.

A few decades ago, four of us, three from out of town (four male friends) went out on the town one late afternoon in D.C., and we happened on a street crime in progress — a mugging of a middle aged woman. We started yelling at the perp as we approached, and he immediately took off. We were able to calm the woman down a bit, determined that she had not been injured, and we called 911. Officers from three police departments responded — the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department (which has over 3,000 uniformed officers); the United States Capitol Police (with over 500 uniformed officers); and the United States Secret Service (Uniformed Division, also with over 500 uniformed officers). They all spoke to us, took a description, and the guy was actually picked up by an officer from a fourth law enforcement agency — he may have been with the Metro Transit Police. We actually were driven 10 – 12 blocks away, and IDed the guy.

But we were never called for trial, and the friend who was living in DC called and found out the guy was sprung when he pled to a lesser included.

(continued below)

Trochilus on September 19, 2013 at 7:23 PM


Immediate response at that location within the Washington Navy Yard could have easily involved several agencies from among that slew of law enforcement agencies including — just for starters, and in addition to any Navy guard unit within the base — the Metropolitan Police, the Capitol Police, the Secret Service Uniformed; the FBI, the United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), the ATF, possibly the Federal Protective Service (Homeland) . . .

According to the BBC story, the Capital Police tactical unit just happened to be close by, and they initially started to swing into action. But, also according to the report, they were told to stand down.

How would you like to be the guy or gal assigned to write the “report” explaining what happened, and analyzing whether immediate action by that unit would likely have saved lives?

Trochilus on September 19, 2013 at 7:45 PM

‘Toons of the Day: Hey, Barry, Can I Get One Of Those New-Fangled AR-15 Shotguns About Which Piers Morgan, CNN, and MSNBC Were Agog? Exceptional!

Resist We Much on September 19, 2013 at 10:06 PM

What is it with this regime and stand down orders?

nazo311 on September 19, 2013 at 10:54 PM

The NSA will have all of the shooter’s phone records, correct?

Would certainly save a lot of investigating if they can just hand it all over to the police….

So, while they are expertly combing the airwaves to “keep us safe”, once again they have a gunman on the lose, working for the government, with security clearance.

Face it, even if this were a regular Islamic nutjob or even a suicide bomber, the security guys would be as clueless as they were in Boston.

Whoever hired him and cleared his access needs to be disciplined, and any others like this criminal need to be ejected from government service before they become a problem.

virgo on September 20, 2013 at 3:15 AM

This BBC story — the angle that a highly trained “SWAT” team from the United States Capitol Police happened to be in the immediate vicinity of the Washington Navy Yard at the time the incident began, and that they preliminarily responded, only to be told by their commander to “stand down” is a story well worth pursuing.

As I noted above, a comment at the beginning of this thread by Steve Eggleston, is the most likely summary explanation for exactly what happened, and quite possibly it explains why several of those people tragically died.

I’ll lay odds it’s jurisdiction.

Steve Eggleston on September 18, 2013 at 6:07 PM

The story will unfortunately fuel some stupid conspiratorial speculation as well, rather than focus what it should target — an instance of very bad judgment in the face of an emergency. The story suggests the likelihood of inappropriate institutional infighting having been the motivating factor behind that bad judgment, or, perhaps even hesitation occasioned by a desire to avoid an institutional squabble. Either way, the hesitation — the failure to act immediately — may have resulted in several lives being tragically and needlessly lost.

Because of the embarrassment that would be occasioned by the facts being aired, it is very unlikely we’ll ever be told the story behind the issuance of that “stand down” order.

Going forward, there may be an “inter-agency vetting” process whereby the several participants, and potential participants, will agree to coordinate their responses so that no one is given undue exposure. The initial response was denial, but it looks like they are now “looking into it,” which may just mean the cover-up has begun!

How long does it take to answer these few questions? “Did you issue a “stand down” order to the tactical team on the grounds at the WNY facility, and if so, why? In the first period of time during which your team would have been able to act, were you contacted by any other law enforcement agency with jurisdiction, and asked or ordered to have your tactical team “stand down?” And if so, by whom?

For some of the same reasons, we have never been told the full story behind the “stand down” order being given for the unit preparing to board the flight in Tripoli, Libya en route to Benghazi late on 9/11. Mistakes were made, but no one is accountable. Nor will there be a full accounting for the obvious lack of provision of security at the Benghazi facilities prior to the terrorist attack on 9/11/2012. Mistakes were made, but at long last, no one is accountable.

Why? Because if anyone is made to pay, all hell will break loose, and the real culprit(s) will be held accountable by the public for the real problem — lack of leadership, and misfeasance in office.

Trochilus on September 20, 2013 at 1:37 PM