Shortly after 8 a.m. on yesterday, Aaron Alexis became the latest in a growing number of mass murderers in America. Alexis who worked as a contractor in the Navy Yard in Washington, DC, according to official reports gunned down twelve victims and injured several others before being shot to death by the police. Initial reports were that two other suspects were being sought but later that evening the search was called off when it was determined that Alexis acted alone.
Amid the chaos and confusion, one notable thing happened that was totally unexpected or anticipated. Dr. Janis Orlowski who is the Chief Medical Officer/Chief Operating Officer for MedStar Washington Hospital Center did a press briefing around 4 p.m. This was not your typical press briefing but was more of a concerned citizen, mother and retiring doctor. Orlowski had submitted her resignation early Monday morning before she knew what the rest of her day would consist of.
"Announced today that I will be leaving in a month," Dr. Orlowski wrote in an email. "Have the opportunity to take a health policy and innovation position for a national professional organization. News travels fast."
After the initial reports of the mass shooting, Orlowski's assessment of the tragedy was a refreshing analogy based on her first hand involvement of patients coming to her hospital with gun shot wounds. Her years of experience and the manner in which she directed the press briefing showed a woman fed up with the carnage of a society that has become far too tolerant to gun violence. This link is a complete transcript of her statements.
The statement by Orlowski made her a sought after spokesperson on many news outlets throughout the day. She appeared live on "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell" where the general public got a chance to hear and see her passion for ending the gun violence in our society.
The motives of Aaron Alexis are still being determined as if knowing why he did such a horrible thing will make the sting somewhat less. The press immediately reported that the attack was not terrorist related to put at ease those who would demand some immediate action in retaliation. It is now being reported that Alexis had recently converted to Buddhism to put to ease those who would vilify all Muslims if the perpetrator turned out to be a Muslim.
That leaves us with a lone gunman who went to work presumably with a loaded weapon purchased just days ago in Virginia. After entering the building portion of the compound, Alexis reportedly shot a guard and retrieved his weapon which happened to be an AR-15. He somehow got a hold of another weapon bringing the total number of weapons he had at his disposal to three. This action is significant because it puts to rest the NRA's Wayne LaPierre's notion that, "The way to stop the bad guys is for more good guys to have guns."
President Obama made a statement in which he condemned the slaughter as a cowardly act and praised the victims as patriots. He pointed out that they put their lives on the line everyday fighting wars on foreign lands only to come home to their country and lose their lives. He ordered the flag at the White House as well as all federal buildings be flown at half mass for the remainder of the week.
The twelve patriots who lost their lives are:
— Michael Arnold, 59
— Martin Bodrog, 54
— Arthur Daniels, 51
— Sylvia Frasier, 53
— Kathy Gaarde, 62
— John Roger Johnson, 73
— Frank Kohler, 50
— Mary Francis Knight, 51
— Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46
— Vishnu Pandit, 61
— Gerald L. Read, 58
— Richard Michael Ridgell, 52