- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2004

A worker inside a U.S. Department of Agriculture building was stabbed yesterday during a fight with a co-worker who remained at large last night.

“This was not a random act,” said Dennis O’Connor, a spokesman for Federal Protective Services, a division of the Department of Homeland Security. “The individuals did know each other, and it is considered an isolated incident.”

Protective services provides law enforcement for the more than 1 million tenants and visitors in all federally owned and leased facilities.

Mr. O’Connor said the men are believed to be custodial workers and that the victim, in his 30s, had multiple stab wounds. He was taken to George Washington University Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

“We found the victim with several stab wounds in the chest and abdomen,” he said. “We have not determined a weapon or a motive yet.”

The men, who are contract workers, likely were screened at security, said Marc Raimondi with the Department of Homeland Security.

The incident occurred at about 11:30 a.m. in the department’s South Building, on the Mall near the Smithsonian museums. Authorities locked down the building for about 15 minutes after the attack.

Mr. O’Connor said the suspect had not been captured as of last night and acknowledged that authorities were not sure exactly where he was.

“We have been in contact with the suspect,” he said. “We are indiscussions. … We are trying to talk him into turning himself in.”

Priscilla Carey, deputy administrator at the Agriculture Department, said the building’s 6,500 employees were notified through an emergency-notification system that overrides department computers not to enter or exit the building for an hour.

This is not the first such incident at an Agriculture Department facility.

In 1998, an agency employee fatally shot his supervisor and a union representative before turning the gun on himself in an Inglewood, Calif., field office.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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