The Senate lifted its lockdown Monday afternoon after a little more than an hour, though Sergeant at Arms Terrance W. Gainer defended the initial decision, which came more than seven hours after the Navy Yard shooting, saying he believes it kept staffers safe.
Even though the Senate shut its doors, the House side never did — leaving a bizarre situation where tours continued and staffers were able to walk back and forth, even as armed squadrons of police stood at the hallways connecting the Senate to the rest of the Capitol.
Mr. Gainer, in a notice to Senate employees late in the afternoon, said he had acted out of an abundance of caution, and took pains to defend his decision, which put him at odds with the rest of official Washington.
“As the authorities went about the complicated mission at the Navy Yard, our immediate concern has been the unknowns. Is there a second or third shooter or isn’t there? Is this act of workplace violence or something more sinister?” Mr. Gainer said.
“There are ongoing reports of a second shooter; lookouts have been issued. Accordingly the decision was made to go to a lock down, a limited shelter in place. This maximized your security, allowed the USCP to concentrate on potential unknowns, on people approaching the complex, and provided additional time to gather information,” he said.
The Supreme Court, which is just across the street from the Capitol, did not go on lockdown either.
The Capitol complex stands about 15 blocks away from the Navy Yard, where 12 people were shot dead on Monday morning. One man identified as a shooter died at the scene, and police initially said there could be two other shooters, though later cleared one of the men.