As the horror unfolded following a mass shooting on Monday at a Naval yard in Washington, D.C., an Aiken resident and ASTV personality witnessed the chaos firsthand.
Eileen Hutson went to Washington, D.C., for a friend's birthday celebration and is staying with her son, who lives just a couple of blocks from the Washington Navy Yard where at least 13 people were killed during a shooting rampage on Monday.
The Associated Press reported that former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis of Texas, 34, opened fire in one of the Navy's oldest buildings inside a heavily guarded facility. Alexis was shot and killed by police.
The attack happened a short distance from the White House and the U.S. Capitol.
The building that was targeted is the military's headquarters for Naval Sea Systems Command, which buys, builds and maintains ships, submarines and combat systems, according to the Associated Press.
Hutson, also known as Chef MadJon, is the host of ASTV's “Cooking with MadJon and Friends.” She said she and her son walked to the Naval yard to take pictures after hearing about the attack on the news.
Hutson said helicopters whizzed across the skies above as the search went on for the other potential gunmen, and police cars blocked off streets. They joined other onlookers and reporters right outside the Naval yard.
There were very few “curiosity seekers” outside the facility, she said. They even got pictures of the large building with smokestacks, where the shootings reportedly took place.
“There were a lot of news media,” she said. “They were trying to find somebody coming out of the facility to talk to.”
Hutson said a friend of hers was working on the scene as a victim's advocate. They assisted her for a short time by bringing items such as clipboards and paper towels to her before leaving.
“It was kind of scary because we heard from one of the other news units that they were checking out Andrews Air Force Base,” she said. “Something had happened there, so I told him, 'I think we ought to go inside.'”
The city was on high alert, and authorities were telling people to stay indoors while the search for other potential gunmen was ongoing, Hutson said, adding that she planned to spend the rest of the day inside making pasta gravy and lasagna.
“There are some people on the streets but not many. Not around this area anyway,” she said. “They have us on lockdown. They don't want you outside.”
Hutson said she had already been interviewed by England's BBC and was supposed to do a live interview at 10 p.m. on Monday.
“D.C., I think, is pretty much used to something like this because they're always on high alert,” she said. “There's always somebody trying to do something. It just unfortunately happens.”
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since 2012.
He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.
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