A Pentagon police officer has died after he was stabbed several times in the neck outside the Pentagon on Tuesday, officials familiar with the incident told NBC News.
The officer, identified as George Gonzales, served as a Pentagon Force Protection Agency officer since 2018 and attained the rank of senior officer in 2020.
Gonzales was a military and police veteran who had served previously with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Transportation Security Administration and United States Army. He also received a Army Commendation Medal for his service in Iraq.
He opened fire on the assailant after the attack began outside the Pentagon metro entrance, according to NBC News. The assailant was shot dead by police, but it’s not yet clear which officer killed the assailant.
At the time of the shooting, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were at the White House for a meeting with President Joe Biden.
Austin expressed his condolences for the death of the officer in a statement Tuesday, and said the flags at the Pentagon Reservation would fly at half-mast in honor of his loss.
“This fallen officer died in the line of duty, helping protect the tens of thousands of people who work in — and who visit — the Pentagon on a daily basis,” Austin said in the statement.
“He and his fellow officers are members of the Pentagon family, and known to us all as professional, skilled and brave. This tragic death today is a stark reminder of the dangers they face and the sacrifices they make,” he continued.
Milley also issued a statement Tuesday that extended his condolences to the late officer’s family and commended him for his work.
“We are forever grateful for the professionalism, dedication and courage he and every officer exhibit to ensure the safety and well-being of all of us who serve at the Pentagon,” Milley said.
The Pentagon was placed on lockdown Tuesday morning after several gunshots were fired near the building, but it reopened after more than an hour.
Woodrow Kusse, the police chief of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, said at a press conference that “several injuries resulted from the incident” but did not provide details.
Kusse said authorities are not actively looking for another suspect: “The incident is over, the scene is secure, and most importantly, there is no continuing threat to our community,” he said.
The FBI is leading an investigation into the incident, as the motivations behind it are still unknown.
“At this time, it would be premature to speculate on motive, and in order to protect the integrity of the investigation we cannot provide additional details at this time,” the FBI Washington Field Office said in a statement. “There is no ongoing threat to the public.”
The incident occurred on a metro bus platform that is part of the Pentagon Transit Center, only steps away from the Pentagon building in Arlington County, Virginia.
“The Pentagon Metro Station is probably one of the busiest in the transportation system. It is a hub for commuters as well as building occupants,” Kusse said at the press conference.
While the lockdown has been lifted, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency tweeted that the public should stay away from the metro rail entrance and bus platform area as it is “still an active crime scene.”
Transportation at the Pentagon is now being diverted to Pentagon City, the agency added.
Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, expressed his condolences for the officer’s death in a Twitter post Tuesday.
“I’m incredibly saddened to learn about the passing of a Pentagon police officer, who was killed earlier this morning in a senseless act of violence outside the Pentagon,” Warner posted on Twitter.
“My heart goes out to the officer’s family and friends, as well as the entire Pentagon Police force,” said Warner, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The Fairfax County Police Department also issued a statement on the death of the police officer.
The last time a significant incident occurred at the Pentagon Metro Center was in 2010, according to Kusse.
A gunman opened fire at the Pentagon entrance and wounded two officers with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency in March 2010. The officers, who survived, fatally shot the man soon after.