If after the Newtown school massacre last year, the US was in shock because of the tender ages of so many of the victims, it was the maturity of those gunned down during Monday’s deadly rampage at the Washington Navy Yard that hit home today. The youngest was 46, all had had long careers, some were grandparents.
It was only this morning that all the names of the victims had been released, because for some of the bereaved families’ confirmation had only come late on Monday. For the family of Sylvia Fraser, 53, huddled in her suburban Maryland home, it meant first learning she had been admitted to hospital. Only at 10pm did the phone call come with the news they had all dreaded. A network security systems manager, Ms Fraser, had passed away.
“He killed my sister,” Wendy Edmonds, a younger sister, wept as she talked to the Washington Post. But she added: “No matter how we feel, no matter what information we get from the FBI, we have got to forgive. We have to forgive.”
Arthur Daniels, 51, had worked for years installing furniture in federal buildings and on Monday he had a job at the Navy Yard. Witnesses said he and a co-worker had attempted to flee the shooter, Aaron Alexis, and that he was franticly pushing the button for the lift when he was shot in the back. A grandfather of nine, he reportedly fell to the ground instantly.
“He has this great personality and is always helping others,” said Lewis R. Yancey II, the owner of the furniture company. “And I have to wonder if he was doing that when he was shot.”
Part of a team designing and building amphibious assault vessels, Michael Arnold, 59, had recently spent his spare time building his own light aircraft in his basement. Now it will never be finished. “How can you get up in the morning and go to work and have that happen? How do bad things like that happen to good people?” an uncle, Steve Hunter, asked. A former naval captain who retired last year he had been working as a consultant partly at the Navy Yard.
A utilities foreman, Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46, didn’t work in Building 197, but habitually went to the glass-walled cafeteria in the one of its two atriums for breakfast before starting work. And so he did on Monday unaware that Alexis was soon to open fire on the area from a third-floor gallery. “It was a routine thing for him to go there in the morning, and unfortunately it happened,” his ex-wife Evelyn Proctor said.