Pentagon guards trained for attack like that of gunman's
Saturday, March 6, 2010
They're both former service members -- one a Marine who guarded U.S. embassies all over the world, the other an Air Force reservist who worked as a New Orleans cop -- who made second careers in the police force that protects the Pentagon.
They spent their days checking identifications and helping tourists outside of one of the world's most important buildings. With the horror of Sept. 11, 2001, never far from memory, they knew they could come under attack at any time. They trained for it. Planned for it. Waited for it.
So when a well-dressed, mild-mannered Californian who had driven cross-country in a 12-year-old Toyota pulled out a gun and started shooting shortly after sunset Thursday, they were ready.
Along with a third unidentified member of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, Officers Jeffrey Amos and Marvin L. Carraway Jr. returned fire, authorities said. John Patrick Bedell, 36, was hit in the head and later pronounced dead.
Carraway, 44, of Clinton, and Amos, 46, of Woodbridge, were grazed by bullets, treated for minor injuries and released Thursday night.
The pair "did exactly what they were trained to do," said Pentagon Police Chief Richard S. Keevill said. Neither officer would comment Friday. Police were sent to their homes to keep media away until an internal investigation is completed.
Speaking briefly with the Associated Press, Amos said, "I just thank the Lord that he shielded me when all of this took place."
Carraway, who grew up in the area and had been with the Pentagon police for about 16 months, enlisted in the Corps when he was 18 and rose to the rank of sergeant, according to the Marine Corps. He worked as a motor mechanic and as a security guard stationed at the U.S. embassies in Kuwait, Singapore and Sudan.
He qualified as a sharpshooter on both pistol and rifle. Arthur Penn, chairman of the Pentagon Fraternal Order of Police, said Carraway was resting Friday. "He's doing fine," Penn said. "He's in good spirits. He said the training just snapped in and [he] just reacted."
Amos, a retired Air Force reservist, is a married father of three -- one in high school, two in elementary school -- who joined the Pentagon force after serving 11 years as an officer with the New Orleans police.
"He's extremely conscientious, extremely dedicated, very polite, very decent guy," said Irvin L. Magri Jr., founder and former president of the Police Association of New Orleans, which represents officers.
Created after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency expanded from a localized police force to include bomb sniffing canine units, and officers who specialize in counterterrorism, hazardous materials and explosives.
But the public most often sees officers such as Amos and Carraway, who work the entrance.
"You have to temper your suspicions with courtesy because many of the people are tourists," Penn said.
Which is what Bedell looked like at first, police said. He was wearing slacks and a blazer.
Nothing unusual -- until he reached to get what the officers assumed was his identification and instead pulled out a gun.