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Investigations launched over security, police response to Navy Yard shooting

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WASHINGTON -

The Washington Navy Yard is reopening Thursday morning for everybody except those who work in Building 197.

That huge office complex was still a crime scene as of late Wednesday night as the fallout over Monday's mass murder continues to grow.

"He committed murder," says Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "And I'm not sure that any particular question or lack of question on a security clearance would probably have revealed that."

The most senior Pentagon officials are launching investigations into base security and the policies regarding security clearances after accused killer Aaron Alexis, a former Navy reservist working as a civilian information technology contractor at the Navy Yard, was able to keep his government security clearance despite seeking mental health care at the Veterans Affairs Department as recently as last month.

"Obviously, when you go back in hindsight and look at all of this, there were some red flags," says Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. "Of course there were. And should we have picked them up? Why didn't we? How could we? All those questions need to be answered."

At the main entrance to the Navy Yard Wednesday, a steady stream of active duty and civilian employees were not coming to work, but returning to the scene of the mass murder to get their cars and other belongings they were forced to abandon Monday.

"You know, it does kind of make you think -- 'It could have been me,'" says Cy Murphy, who works at the Navy Yard. "It was very random how the guy went after people."

Inside and around Building 197, teams of FBI investigators are still working the crime scene.

And FOX 5 News has learned new details about the frantic moments when Metropolitan Police Department Officer Scott Williams was shot and wounded while hunting Alexis Monday morning. Williams and three other K-9 officers entered Building 197 -- calling the scene chaotic, with gunshots blazing, the building's fire alarm blaring and the floors littered with bodies.

A close friend says Williams was ambushed by Alexis with the gunfire coming from a nearby doorway. Williams was hit in both legs -- one shattered. We are told fellow officer Emanuel Smith dragged Williams out of the building and put him into an unmarked car which then drove Williams to a waiting ambulance. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says Williams is expected to make a full recovery.

And a union official with the federal police force that protects the Navy Yard says they were short-staffed Monday morning with only seven officers guarding the perimeter gates and only the police chief on patrol. Anthony Meely says there should have been 11 Naval District Washington police officers on duty Monday. He also says none of the officers on duty had access to police cars.

"Those officers (in other parts of the base) had to close those gates," Meely says. "There weren't any vehicles, and because there weren't enough vehicles, they had to run across from Navy Yard to 197 to assist. And I can say one life was lost because of that."

Meely did not elaborate.

And there is word the Capitol Police Chief is asking the Capitol Police Board to investigate claims that four of its officers, part of an elite at-the-ready SWAT team -- always on standby for active shooter incidents at the Capitol -- were ordered by their own supervisors to stand down and go back to the Hill Monday after responding to the Navy Yard within minutes of the first reports of gunfire. It is a move that is said to have infuriated the officers on that team.

We are also learning Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to MedStar Washington Hospital Center Wednesday night to spend a few minutes with Officer Williams and another of the gunshot victims who survived Monday's deadly rampage.


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