The tonal alert lasted a few seconds, loud enough to drown out conversation but not so it hurt my ears. I expected an announcement to follow as it had a few days past when a moment of silence was called for 9/11. No explanation was forthcoming.
During our next break, the news spread. A shooter, 2 maybe three, were loose at the Naval Yard about a mile from our location on Boling Air Force Base. Our building was locked down interminably. No one could leave.
By lunch, people were calling school and childcare givers to make alternate arrangements. Police or security? I’m not sure which, were at the ready with large rifles drawn. One worked with a most beautiful long-haired black German shepherd, blocking the passage to the front door. Buying lunch “in house” took twice as long. The lines for food purchase burgeoned with folks unable to go elsewhere.
Back in the our area, lines formed as well. I realized my phone with all the needed numbers was locked away out in my car. The internet came to my rescue, and I was finally able to make arrangements for our children.
More information filtered to us during breaks. By the end of our work day, the lock down was lifted and my husband and I drove home making record time because the large D.C. freeways that usually fed into our route were still shut down. They were part of the crime scene. We listened as the radio updated the originally more inflamed reports. It was one shooter with three guns, not three shooters. The numbers of casualties were corrected.
Our children waited at the neighbor’s house unaware. The youngest ran to me for the big usual stomach slamming hugs. And I held on and kissed them all even as I prayed for those less fortunate that day.