Let me start by saying that I did not, personally, see the shootings as they were happening, but I was definitely caught up the whole ordeal as I will explain to you. I am a contractor that works on the Washington Navy Yard and was out and about as I often am on any other normal day. But this was to be no normal Monday. I am a network engineer and we had multiple devices that were down throughout the Yard, including one in Building 197. It was about 8:00am and I was on my way to Building 197, but for some reason stopped to fix another issue in another building first. I fixed the problem quickly and as I was leaving that building and headed to Building 197, I started seeing people fleeing from the building saying there was a shooting. It was so surreal at the time, but I quickly ran in the opposite direction and into a building that was quickly locked down as the Base speakers told everyone to stay where they were and keep away from windows.
I remained in this building until we started hearing people entering the building. We quickly realized it was the FBI and they swiftly escorted us out of the building to the bottom level of a parking garage with full battle gear and weapons drawn. We stayed in the parking garage for a couple of hours until we were, once again, moved to another safe building where we remained and were given frequent updates from the authorities. We stayed in this building until the decision was made to escort everyone off Base. By that time, the streets were lined with press and police vehicles as I made my way to the closest Metro station in order to get home. I called my wife and had her and my kids pick me up at the Metro station and what a relief it was to see them!! I gave them all a huge hug as I quickly realized how lucky I was to still be alive. This also made me realize not to take anything for granted and to make sure to let your family know how much they are loved on a daily basis because you never know what fate has in store for you on any given day.
As time passed, I started thinking about all of the "what if's" that happened that dreadful morning. What if I didn't stop in another building on my way to Building 197? I would have been in the building as the shootings were taking place. What if my timing had been just a few minutes earlier? I would have left the building I was in and been in Building 197 at the same time the shooter was as well. I truly feel blessed that I made it out alive and uninjured and my heart goes out to the families of those that lost their loved ones on Monday September 16, 2013. I cannot express enough appreciation for all of the first responders who put their lives on the line to protect everyone during this harrowing event. Great Job and God Bless all of you!!