Washington pauses to mourn lives lost at Navy Yard

AP News
Posted: Sep 17, 2013 4:37 PM
Washington pauses to mourn lives lost at Navy Yard

WASHINGTON (AP) — At the U.S. Navy Memorial, in church and on the baseball field, the nation's capital paused Tuesday to mourn the 12 people killed in a shooting rampage at one of the oldest military installations.

After yet another mass shooting — this time at Washington Navy Yard — some said such violence has become commonplace and grappled with how society should change. Others reflected in silence.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and military officials held a solemn tribute at the U.S. Navy Memorial on Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue. Hagel was joined by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey in laying a wreath at the memorial's "Lone Sailor" statue. A service member played "Taps," and military officials saluted.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, celebrated a special Mass of healing and consolation at St. Matthew's Cathedral downtown.

"Every human life is a great and beautiful gift. That's why we were told it's not ours to take," Wuerl told a crowd of more than 100 who gathered at noon.

The sudden and unexpected deaths at a massive military office building are a reminder "to all of us that we know not the day, nor the hour of death's visitation," he said.

Wuerl prayed first for the victims and their families that they will find comfort and hope. The gunman also was killed.

The killings touched much closer to home, Wuerl said, and such violence is recognition that "something is wrong."

"We pray also for a greater healing, a healing that touches what is wounded and broken in our world," he said. "Only love can conquer violence ... Love alone can bring consolation and healing on a level of magnitude that we as a people, as world, as a nation ... so much need."

Parishioner Richard J. Lewis of Washington said he met with Wuerl before the Mass, and they agreed that something must be done to stop such violence.

"Something is seriously wrong that this continues to happen. It's almost commonplace," Lewis said.

Tess Pantow of Arlington, Va., said she came to Mass to pray for the victims and to help ease her worries. She's been wondering how the nation should control firearms or include mental health screenings in hiring employees, she said.

"Hopefully through the Mass I do find peace. It calms me as a person, and I'm a worrier," she said. "But as a mother, it's kind of hard not to."

As the Washington Nationals resumed play against the Atlanta Braves a few blocks from the Navy Yard on Tuesday, the players held Navy caps over their hearts in a moment of silence.

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper tweeted a photo of his Navy cap and encouraged fans to wear Navy blue and gold as well.

The close proximity of the shooting rampage hit some players hard, they said.

Washingtonians and Americans "remain united," the Nationals' public address announcer said before asking fans to remember "all those affected by yesterday's senseless act of violence."


AP Sports Writer Joseph White contributed to this report.