A story in Thursday's Washington Post incorrectly said that a grand jury had finished its investigation of the shooting death of security guard James H. Daniels at the District Building last Saturday. The grand jury investigation has not been completed.
Janet Wilson had just put on her floppy knit cap and was preparing to leave her District Building office early last Saturday evening when security guard James H. Daniels, whom she barely knew, walked in and asked if she were heading home.
"I didn't think anything about it," Wilson recalled in an interview yesterday. "Then he asked me if I was going to leave him all alone. I told him, 'Sure. You're going to be all right.'
"Then he said, 'You're not going anywhere,' and pushed me."
In an instant, what she had thought was merely an interlude of light banter was transformed into an episode of horror for the 38-year-old divorced mother of two.
Over the next 15 minutes, she said, Daniels would slap and beat her, bind her wrists, gag her with a soggy newspaper and attempt to lead her to some unknown destination. In the end, Wilson would find herself standing in a District Building hallway firing three shots from Daniels' own service revolver, killing him as he charged her one last time.
"I just called on the Lord. 'Lord, have mercy,'" said the devoutly religious woman, who was exonerated by police and a grand jury earlier this week.
Wilson, who lives in Prince George's County, had driven to work Saturday afternoon to finish a tedious report. When she arrived, another guard was on duty at the guard post just steps away from her office. He did not require her to sign in.
But when Daniels reported for duty an hour later, he stuck his head in her office and asked her to sign the sheet. She did, noticing nothing unusual about his behavior.
"I guess it was a little after six when I wrote some notes to the people about the report and took it upstairs," Wilson recounted. "I didn't see him [Danaiels] when I went out, but when I came back down he asked me if I was leaving.
"We just spoke like we usually do and I kept on going" to her office, she said. Daniels told her he was glad she was driving a car because there had been several robberies in the area and the guards had been told to keep an eye on employes leaving the building.
"I put on my hat," she said. "He just kind of walked in. I really didn't pay any attention." Then Daniels asked her if she was going to leave him alone, shoved her when she made a light-hearted answer and then pressed his body against hers -- more to block her exit than "anything sexual," she said.
It was then that Wilson first felt doubt creeping into her.
"I looked at him -- I didn't know if he was joking or what -- and said, 'You're wrong. We don't need to be doing this. This isn't right and I got to get out of here.'
"'You're not going anywhere,'" she recalled Daniels saying. She said he then struck her with his arm and knocked her cap off.
"He got angry, took out his gun and said, 'You think I'm playing?' He cocked the gun and put it to my head. I thought he just might be joking, but I couldn't believe somebody'd joke like that. His eyes changed and his whole demeanor changed."
Wilson said with Daniels close to her she could smell "liquor -- I don't drink but I know the smell" -- on his breath but said Daniels wasn't slurring words or stumbling. Police later found 12 empty beer cans near the guard desk.
Suddenly, he put the gun back in his holster and Wilson stooped to pick up her coat and bag, believing she could leave.He pushed her again, spilling a cup of water across the desk and floor.
"I said you're not going anywhere," she said Daniels growled at her. He ordered her to clean up the spilled water with a newspaper and then moved to gag her with a rag. She talke him out of it.
"He had cut his hand somehow, enough bleeding that it dripped to the floor," she related. He accused her of being responsible for the cut. "You know what that means," he told her ominously.
Though Wilson was now convinced Daniels was serious, she said there was nothing in his erratic behavior that led her to believe he intended to attack her sexually. Instead, he told her to put on her coat and sit down. Then he bound her hands with the rag, tying the left wrist so tightly that police later had to cut the knot to remove it. But he bound her right wrist loosely, an oversight she believes saved her life.
Daniels walked out into the hallway twice, and during his brief absences Wilson toyed with the idea of trying to reach her desk phone and dialing for help. But each time he returned too quickly.
Finally, he struck her in the back of the head with his pistol. "Do you want me to get violent?" he asked.
Daniels muttered incoherently about wanting to "move things around" and closed Wilson's office blinds. Then, without explaining, he announced, "It's time to go," as he stuffed the wet newspaper in her mouth.
Daniel walked Wilson toward her door. He yanked her into the silence when they heard footsteps on the hall floor. He told her to move back from the door. But she "only moved slightly. I was trying to get out."
Daniels stepped into the hall without closing the office door and asked the woman in the hall, an employe who had been working upstairs, if she were leaving. She was. Daniels asked her if anyone else was in the building. wShe said yes.
As Daniels turned back toward the office door, Wilson saw possibly her last chance to escape slipping away. She yanked her right arm free from the bondage and leaped into the hallway screaming, "Get me out of here."
Daniels began beating her with his hands while the other employe ran screaming toward the marble first-floor stairway nearby.
Wilson started to run outside, but hearing more screams from the other woman, ran toward the marble staircase. "I don't know what I thought I could do. He was a big man. I never gave any idea of tussling with him," Wilson said.
As she approached the staircase. She found Daniel's gun lying on the floor and picked it up. She could hear the woman screaming higher up, but could not see her. Daniels, on the mid-floor landing just steps above her, turned and charged down the stairway taunting her, "You're not going to shoot, you're not going to shoot."
Wilson backed away. She fired once and Daniels ducked. She fired twice more, striking him both times as he plunged toward her. Daniels wobbled past and turned again in her direction. She thought she was going to have to shoot one more time when he stopped.
"Well, you got me," Daniels said matter-of-factly. Then he fell to the floor dead.
Wilson called to the other woman upstairs that it was safe and then she stepped past Daniels' body to use his guard's telephone to call the police.
Yesterday, Wilson, who will graduate with a communications degree from American Univeristy in May, reflected with sadness on the pain undoubtedly being felt by the family of the man, who was described as a model officer. "I know they are hurting, too," she said.
"You read stuff like this in books and see it on TV," she said. But those stories always have endings you understand." Janet Wilson said she knows what happened, but not why.
"I wish he had stopped," she said.