A dozen people died in a shooting rampage Monday at the Washington Navy Yard. It was the deadliest attack at a domestic military installation since November 2009, when an Army psychiatrist killed 13 people and wounded 30 others at Fort Hood, Texas. Early Tuesday, the stories of some of those who died started to surface.
Michael Arnold, 59, of Lorton, Va., was a Navy veteran and avid pilot who was building a light airplane at his home, said his uncle, Steve Hunter.
“It would have been the first plane he ever owned,” Hunter said in a telephone interview from Rochester, Mich., Arnold’s hometown. “It’s partially assembled in his basement.”
Arnold graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and served in the Navy for 29 years, before retiring as a captain last October, according to an article in the Navy Supply Corps Newsletter. Arnold, who had two master’s degrees from the University of Washington in Seattle, then went to work for LMI, a consulting firm based in McLean, Va.
Hunter said his nephew worked at the Navy Yard on a team that designed vessels such as the USS Makin Island, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship used by the Marine Corps. Jeff Bennett, a vice president at LMI, told The Washington Post that Arnold “was just a solid, solid citizen … great American.”
Arnold and his wife, Jolanda, had been married for more than 30 years, Hunter said. They had two grown sons, Eric and Christopher.
Hunter said Arnold returned to Michigan for Labor Day to visit his 80-year-old mother, Patricia.
“He was a loving son of his mother and his wife, and great father to his kids,” said Hunter. “It’s tragic. How can you get up in the morning and go to work and have that happen? How do bad things like that happen to good people?”
Sylvia Frasier, 53, had worked at Naval Sea Systems Command as an information assurance manager since 2000, according to a LinkedIn profile in her name.
Frasier studied at Strayer University, earning a bachelor of science in computer information systems in 2000 and a master’s in information systems in 2002. Her duties at NAVSEA included providing policy and guidance on network security, and assuring that all computer systems operated by the headquarters met Department of Navy and Department of Defense requirements.
She also led efforts “to establish and implement procedures to investigate security violations or incidents,” according to the profile.
Her brother, James Frasier, declined comment Monday night.
Kathleen Gaarde, 63, of Woodbridge, Va., was a financial analyst who supported the organization responsible for the shipyards, her husband, Douglass, wrote in an email to the AP early Tuesday.
Douglass Gaarde declined to speak, but wrote that he was unable to sleep.
“Today my life partner of 42 years (38 of them married) was taken from me, my grown son and daughter, and friends,” he wrote. “We were just starting to plan our retirement activities and now none of that matters. It hasn’t fully sunk in yet but I know I already dearly miss her.”
Madelyn Gaarde, of Grand Junction, Colo., who’s married to Douglass Gaarde’s brother, said her sister- and brother-in-law met while he was studying electrical engineering at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
Douglass Gaarde, an Illinois native, also worked for the Navy until his retirement last year, his sister-in-law said.
“She was a very gracious person and very welcoming,” she said of Kathleen Gaarde.
Kenneth Proctor, 46, worked as a civilian utilities foreman at the Navy Yard, his ex-wife, Evelyn Proctor, said. He spent 22 years working for the federal government, Evelyn Proctor said.
The Waldorf, Md., woman spoke to Kenneth early Monday morning before he left for work at the Navy Yard. It was his regular call. The high school sweethearts talked every day, even after they divorced this year after 19 years of marriage, and they shared custody of their two teenage sons.
She was in shock about her ex-husband’s death.
“He just went in there in the morning for breakfast,” Proctor said Monday night of the building where the shooting took place. “He didn’t even work in the building. It was a routine thing for him to go there in the morning for breakfast, and unfortunately it happened.”
Proctor said she tried to call her ex-husband throughout the day and drove to the Navy Yard on Monday afternoon, fearing the worst. After waiting for about three hours alongside other relatives concerned about their loved ones, she was informed around 8 p.m. that he was among the dead. Officials did not detail the circumstances of his shooting, she said.
The Proctors married in 1994 and divorced this year. Their older son, Kenneth Proctor Jr., 17, enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school this spring and is in basic training in Oklahoma. Their younger son, Kendull Proctor, is 15.
“We were still very close. It wasn’t a bitter divorce,” Evelyn Proctor said. “We still talked every day, and we lived 10 minutes away from each other.”
Kenneth Proctor was born and raised in Charles County, Md., where he lived until his death.
“He loved the Redskins. Loved his kids — a very loving, caring, gentle person. His kids meant a lot to him,” Evelyn Proctor said.
Associated Press writers Amanda Kell, Ben Nuckols and Allen G. Breed contributed to this report.
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