Eyewitness accounts from the Navy Yard

Tim Jirus
‘Believe me, I was running for my life’

Tim Jirus — a 6-foot-2, 48-year-old Navy commander — fled the Washington Navy Yard’s Building 197, escaping the sound of gunfire.

Jirus ended up in an alley between his building and a maintenance facility. A civilian joined him, asking what was happening.

Two more gunshots rang out, the sounds reverberating through the alley.

Jirus turned toward the source of the sound, unsure whether the shots were coming from the building or from the roof above. Then he looked down. The civilian, a man he didn’t know, had been shot in the head. He appeared dead.

The commander, terrified, took off running. He sprinted behind the maintenance facility and quickly scaled a 20-foot black metal fence topped with spikes.

“I’m not an emotional person,” Jirus said in an interview with reporters, holding his composure. “But, believe me, I was running for my life.”

He ran through a construction site and headed toward a Transportation Department building. When he finally felt safe, separated from the shooter by that fence, he pulled out his BlackBerry and began trying to locate his coworkers.

“I was just lucky,” Jirus said. “There were two shots. He got that guy. He didn’t get me.”

Susan Svrluga

and Michelle Boorstein

Susan Svrluga is a reporter for the Washington Post, covering higher education for the Grade Point blog.
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