Austin William Lanz is a 27-year-old Acworth, Georgia, man who was identified as the suspect accused of stabbing and killing a Pentagon police officer at a metro station just steps away from the Pentagon on Tuesday, August 3, 2021, law enforcement sources said in a statement. Lanz stabbed officer George Gonzalez before he was shot and killed, The Associated Press reports.
The FBI released a statement the day after the incident saying that Lanz shot himself with Gonzalez’s gun. At least one other person was injured, but officials did not say how the injury occurred. That person has been released from the hospital, the FBI said.
Gonzalez was a decorated U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq, earning the Army Commendation Medal. He joined the Pentagon Force Protection Agency in 2018, where he rose through the ranks. He was promoted to senior officer in 2020, according to a statement from the PFPA.
Police allege Lanz attacked the Pentagon police officer, stabbing him on the Metrobus platform outside the Pentagon Metro station at about 10:30 a.m. This prompted a lockdown at the Pentagon.
Less than two hours after the stabbing, the lockdown was lifted. Pentagon Force Protection Agency Chief Woodrow Kusse held a brief press conference four hours after the incident and said there was no threat to the public. Very few details were released at the time.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lanz Stabbed Gonzalez Before Shooting Himself With the Officer’s Gun, According to the FBI
The FBI released a statement the afternoon of Wednesday, August 4, 2021, saying that Lanz shot himself with Gonzalez’s service weapon after fatally stabbing Gonzalez. One other person suffered injuries that were not life threatening, according to the FBI.
The full statement said:
At approximately 10:40 a.m. on Tuesday, August 3, an individual exited a bus at the Pentagon Transit Center in Arlington, VA, and immediately, without provocation, attacked [PFPA] Officer George Gonzalez with a knife, severely wounding him.
A struggle ensued, in which the subject mortally wounded Officer Gonzalez and then shot himself with the officer’s service weapon. Other PFPA officers engaged the subject, who ultimately died at the scene.
A civilian bystander, who was also injured during the incident, was transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and later released. The FBI Washington Field Office responded to the incident, along with the PFPA,
[Metro Transit Police Department], and the [Arlington Virginia Police Department].
The deceased subject has been identified as Austin William Lanz, 27, most recently of Acworth, GA. The FBI continues to investigate the incident.
The Associated Press reported that Lanz “ambushed” Gonzalez, citing sources who said Lanz “ran at him and stabbed him in the neck.
The Washington Post reported that Kusse “repeatedly deflected reporters’ questions about what had happened” in the incident during the Tuesday afternoon press conference, but he did say “there were several injuries that resulted from the incident.”
Early reports indicated that the suspect may have entered a railcar and could be headed north toward Maryland, but law enforcement later said the suspect was shot and killed on the scene. Some reports also indicated a manhunt was underway for a suspect wearing a white T-shirt with a red stain on it. Kusse said some early reports were inaccurate.
FOX 5 News reported that at the time of the incident, Department of Defense employees received an electronic warning on their computers and heard an overhead announcement telling all Pentagon personnel to stay inside because of police activity.
The PFPA released a statement on the fallen officer. It said:
End of Watch Aug. 3, 2021.
Last night, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency observed End of Watch for Pentagon Police Officer George Gonzalez who was tragically killed yesterday during the incident at the Pentagon bus platform. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he was a die-hard Yankees fan. He was a graduate of New York City’s Canarsie High School.
George Gonzalez joined the [PFPA] as a police officer on July 22, 2018. As a Pentagon Police officer, he took our mission of ‘protecting those who protect our nation’ to heart. He was promoted twice and attained the rank of Senior Officer in 2020. A gregarious officer, he was well-liked and respected by his fellow officers.
As a military and police veteran, Officer Gonzalez had served previously with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Transportation Security Administration, and United States Army. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for his service in Iraq.
Officer Gonzalez embodied our values of integrity and service to others. As we mourn the loss of Officer Gonzalez, our commitment to serve and protect is stronger.
Officer Gonzalez’s family is in our thoughts and prayers. May he rest in peace.
2. Lanz Enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2012 but Was ‘Administratively Separated’ Within 1 Month
The Associated Press reported that in October 2012, Lanz enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps but according to the Corps “was administratively separated less than a month later and never earned the title Marine.”
Metrorail Info issued statements alerting passengers to diverted traffic around the Pentagon, delays, closed stations and other changes to service due to the police investigation. Law enforcement searched trains, investigating the possibility of a suspect entering a rail car, early reports indicated.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House when the shooting occurred, according to WBALTV.
The news outlet reported that in 2010, two police officers with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency were injured when a gunman, later identified as John Patrick Bedell, approached them at a security screening area. The officers returned gunfire, killing Bedell. The police officers survived their injuries.
3. Lanz Was Arrested & Charged With Assault on a Police Officer in Cobb County, Georgia, in April
Court records in Cobb County, Georgia, indicate Lanz was arrested in April 2021 and charged with criminal trespass and burglary. A separate set of charges was filed against him the same day, which included two counts of aggravated battery on police, a count of making a terroristic threat and a charge for rioting in a penal institution, court records indicate.
Lanz’s court records show a judge reduced his bail amount to $30,000 in May 2021, setting conditions that included prohibiting him from using illegal drugs and ordering a mental health evaluation. The case was still pending when Lanz died, court records show.
Independent journalist Dave Statter was in the area when he heard shots ring out at the metro station and saw a body on the ground, he wrote on Twitter. He shared videos from the scene, which showed Pentagon police attempting to revive two victims who were shot at the upper level of the transport station.
“This video is at 10:49 am as Pentagon police work on the two people down near the Metrobus at the Pentagon transit center,” he wrote on Twitter.
Statter told ARLNow.com he heard “at least a dozen shots.” He shared video that shows police covering a body with a white sheet near a Metrobus and officers surrounding another person with guns drawn.
Two Associated Press reporters were in the area at the time and one reported hearing multiple gunshots, followed by a pause, and then at least one additional gunshot. Another reported hearing police yelling “shooter.”
4. Law Enforcement Officials Gathered Outside the George Washington University Hospital to Escort the Slain Officer’s Body
Reporters described a somber scene as members of law enforcement gathered outside George Washington University Hospital, where Gonzalez was taken after being fatally stabbed in the August 3 incident. Police saluted and provided an escort for the fallen officer.
“Somber moment outside GW University Hospital, where sources tell us a police officer was taken after some sort of attack outside The Pentagon,” reporter Brian Sasser wrote on Twitter.
Victoria Sanchez of 7News DC also described the scene outside the hospital.
“A solemn feeling at the Pentagon,” she wrote on Twitter. “We don’t know officially that an officer passed away, but the police escort is a tradition and sad sign that someone in law enforcement died.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin later issued a statement and said flags would be flown at half staff at the Pentagon in tribute to the fallen officer.
“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,” his statement said. “This tragic death today is a stark reminder of the dangers they face and the sacrifices they make. We are forever grateful for that service and the courage with which it is rendered.”
5. The FBI Is Leading the Investigation & Officials Are Digging Into Lanz’s Background to Determine a Motive in the Attack
Investigators have not yet released any information on a motive behind the shooting. The FBI is leading the investigation, officials said in a press conference. The Associated Press reported that to determine a motive, investigators were looking into Lanz’s background and any history of mental illness to determine “any reason he might want to target the Pentagon or police officers.”
The lockdown at the Pentagon lasted for about two hours before the Department of Defense issued a statement saying the area was secure but remained a crime scene.
“The scene of the incident is secure. It is still an active crime scene,” the Pentagon Force Protection Agency wrote on Twitter. “We request that everyone stay away from the Metro rail entrance and bus platform area. Transportation at the Pentagon is diverted to Pentagon City.”
Minutes later, the DOD agency wrote on Twitter that the lockdown had been lifted.
“The Pentagon has lifted the lock down and has reopened,” the statement said. “Corridor 2 and the Metro entrance remains closed. Corridor 3 is open for pedestrian traffic.”