politics

Pentagon Police Officer Killed in Unprovoked Knife Attack, Assailant Shot Himself

Olivier Douliery | AFP | Getty Images
  • A Pentagon police officer has died after he was stabbed in an unprovoked knife attack at the bus station outside the building.
  • The officer, identified as George Gonzales, served as a Pentagon Force Protection Agency officer since 2018 and attained the rank of senior officer in 2020.
  • The assailant shot himself with Gonzales' gun, was engaged by other officers and ultimately died at the scene.

A Pentagon police officer died after an assailant stabbed him with a knife in an unprovoked attack Tuesday morning, according to an update from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Washington Field Office.

The officer, identified as George Gonzales, served with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency since 2018 and attained the rank of senior officer in 2020.

Gonzales was a military and police veteran who had served previously with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Transportation Security Administration and United States Army.

He also received a Army Commendation Medal for his service in Iraq.

The assailant, identified as Austin Lanz, exited a bus at the Pentagon Transit Center around 10:40 a.m. and immediately attacked Gonzales, according to the FBI update posted on Twitter Wednesday.

Lanz mortally wounded Gonzales and then shot himself with the officer's gun, according to the FBI. Other officers then engaged Lanz, who died at the scene.

Lanz had enlisted in the Marine Corps in October 2012 but was booted out less than a month later, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

In April of this year, Lanz was also arrested in Georgia on criminal trespassing and burglary charges, and faced an additional six charges that include battery on police and making a terrorist threat, according to The Associated Press.

At the time of the shooting, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were at the White House for a meeting with President Joe Biden.

Austin expressed his condolences for the death of the officer in a statement Tuesday, and said the flags at the Pentagon Reservation would fly at half-mast in honor of his loss.

"This fallen officer died in the line of duty, helping protect the tens of thousands of people who work in -- and who visit -- the Pentagon on a daily basis," Austin said in the statement.

"He and his fellow officers are members of the Pentagon family, and known to us all as professional, skilled and brave. This tragic death today is a stark reminder of the dangers they face and the sacrifices they make," he continued.

Milley also issued a statement Tuesday that extended his condolences to the late officer's family and commended him for his work.

"We are forever grateful for the professionalism, dedication and courage he and every officer exhibit to ensure the safety and well-being of all of us who serve at the Pentagon," Milley said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, also offered condolences to Gonzalez's family during a Wednesday press briefing.

"His life was one of service," Psaki said. "He lost his life protecting those who protect the nation."

The Pentagon was placed on lockdown Tuesday morning after several gunshots were fired near the building, but it reopened after more than an hour.

Woodrow Kusse, the police chief of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, said at a press conference Tuesday that authorities are not looking for another suspect: "The incident is over, the scene is secure, and most importantly, there is no continuing threat to our community," he said.

The last time a significant incident occurred at the Pentagon Metro Center was in 2010, according to Kusse. 

A gunman opened fire at the Pentagon entrance and wounded two officers with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency in March 2010. The officers, who survived, fatally shot the man soon after.

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