By Barbara Starr, Evan Perez, Ellie Kaufman and Zachary Cohen, CNN
A police officer died Tuesday after shots were fired outside the Pentagon building, according to three law enforcement sources.
The Pentagon Force Protection Agency, which oversees the security of the Pentagon, confirmed the officer’s death in a tweet late Tuesday, hours after reports first surfaced.
“The Pentagon Force Protection Agency mourns the tragic loss of a Pentagon Police Officer killed during this morning’s incident at the Pentagon. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Officer’s family. Additional info on the officer will be forthcoming, following full next of kin notification,” it said.
The exact circumstances of the shooting incident are still unclear and Pentagon officials offered little clarity during a press briefing earlier Tuesday afternoon. Speaking to reporters, Pentagon Force Protection Agency Chief Woodrow Kusse repeatedly declined to provide substantive details about what occurred and would not confirm or deny reports that an officer had died, citing an ongoing investigation.
Two law enforcement sources previously told CNN that an officer had been shot during the incident. But later Tuesday, a defense official familiar with the initial reports said the officer was stabbed by an assailant and other officers responded rapidly and shot the suspect.
The Metropolitan Police Department, which is the primary law enforcement agency for Washington, DC, also tweeted a statement Tuesday offering condolences for the fallen officer.
“Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the line of duty death of a @PFPAOfficial officer during today’s tragic events at the Pentagon. The men and women of MPD offer our condolences, thoughts, and prayers to PFPA for their loss and to the officer’s family and friends,” it said.
Chief Woodrow Kusse did tell reporters during the briefing that an officer was attacked on a bus platform outside the building and that the incident was over, with “no continuing threat” to the area.
“Gunfire was exchanged and there were several casualties,” he said. While Kusse acknowledged there were several injuries, he would not say whether anyone was killed in the incident.
Kusse also said, after being pressed multiple times by reporters, that law enforcement is “not actively looking for another suspect at this time.”
The “shooting event” occurred on the bus platform on the Pentagon complex and prompted a lockdown of the building with no personnel allowed outside, according to a message that was sent to the Pentagon workforce by the Pentagon Force Protection Agency.
The lockdown has since been lifted, the agency announced later Tuesday, tweeting: “The Pentagon has lifted the lock down and has reopened. Corridor 2 and the Metro entrance remains closed. Corridor 3 is open for pedestrian traffic.”
The event occurred outside the building on the Metro Bus platform, which is a major entrance to the Pentagon used by thousands of personnel every day entering and leaving the building.
The bus platform is used by multiple bus lines in the area.
Earlier Tuesday, Pentagon Force Protection Agency spokesman Chris Layman would not comment on if there was a shooter involved or if people had been injured but Arlington Fire and EMS tweeted that they “did encounter multiple patients,” while responding to an “active violence incident” in the area of the Pentagon Metro. The status of the patients was not immediately provided.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, were attending a scheduled President’s Daily Brief and intelligence update meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House when the incident at the Pentagon occurred, according to a defense official.
Austin has since returned to the Pentagon and visited the Pentagon police operations center in the wake of the shooting outside the building, according to a Pentagon spokesperson.
“He did have a chance to visit the Pentagon police operations center when he returned, to check in with them and to express his gratitude for everything they’re doing on this day with this particular incident,” said Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.
Austin released a statement later Tuesday in which he offered condolences to the officer’s family but did not elaborate on the circumstances around his death.
“On behalf of everyone working at the Pentagon, and across the Department of Defense, I extend my deepest sympathies to the family, loved ones and colleagues of the Pentagon Force Protection Officer who died as a result of injuries he received this morning,” the statement said.
“I have ordered to half-mast the flags flown on the Pentagon Reservation in honor of his loss,” it added. “This tragic death today is a stark reminder of the dangers they face and the sacrifices they make. We are forever grateful for that service and the courage with which it is rendered.”
The area where the incident took place is “still very much an active scene” for investigators, the official said. Pentagon officials “will cooperate fully with local and federal authorities” the official added. Austin is staying away for now “out of respect” for the investigators needing to work.
The reported shooting has halted mass transit to the massive complex.
Metro trains and buses are now bypassing the area, according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. “We will continue to do so until we are advised it is safe,” WMATA spokesperson Sherri Ly told CNN.
The Pentagon is serviced by dozens of bus routes and Metro’s blue and yellow rail lines. The station is the D.C. Metro system’s eighth busiest station in this year with more than 2,400 passengers boarding each day, down from an average of 15,000 per day pre-pandemic.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
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CNN’s Noah Gray and Pete Muntean contributed reporting