1 of 2 | One employee of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority was killed while trying to de-escalate an incident at the Potomac Avenue Metro station in Washington on Wednesday morning. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 1 (UPI) -- One person is dead and three are injured after an alleged lone gunman opened fire at the Potomac Avenue Metro station in Washington on Wednesday morning.
The incident happened at about 9 a.m. when the suspect was involved in an altercation on a Metrobus, Washington's public bus system, according to Ashan Benedict, executive assistant chief of police for the Washington Metropolitan Police Department.
When the bus stopped, the suspect followed the person they were arguing with and shot them. The person was struck in the leg but was able to escape and be transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Following the initial shooting, the suspect went to the Metro station and shot another person in the leg while they were trying to buy a pass for the train, Benedict said. That victim was also able to escape after being dragged over the turnstile. They are in a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The suspect continued into the station and down the escalator before getting into an altercation with a woman, police said. It was then that a transit authority employee tried to de-escalate the situation but was shot and killed, authorities said.
"His heroism has to be recognized here today," Benedict said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family and the heroic actions he took here today."
A second employee successfully de-escalated the situation, stopping the shooting, according to Benedict. The shooter then repeatedly got on and off the train before being apprehended on the platform. Benedict said some bystanders tackled the suspect before law enforcement arrived on the scene. The weapon was recovered from the tracks.
"It's unclear what the motive of all of this is," Benedict said.
Officers received the first call of the incident at about 9:30 a.m., after the bus shooting. Along with the two victims who were shot in the leg, another victim fractured their finger, though Benedict did not clarify how or when this happened.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority closed the Potomac Avenue station for several hours before reopening it Wednesday afternoon.
"These senseless acts must be addressed together by our leaders and community. We will take time to process this loss and take care of our employees," said Randy Clarke, general manager and CEO of WMATA, in a press release. "We are all hurting and will continue to lean on each other for support."
"We don't know a lot about this shooter at this moment other than we had a person with a gun who has created yet another tragedy in our city," said Mayor Muriel Bowser.