Fantahun Girma Woldesenbet was identified by Frederick Police as the Navy corpsman accused of shooting and injuring two people at an industrial park in Frederick, Maryland before he was fatally shot by personnel at nearby Fort Detrick.
The U.S. Navy identified Woldesenbet as a 38-year-old hospital corpsman. Two victims were taken to a Baltimore hospital with critical injuries. The initial shooting was reported at Riverside Tech Park in the northeastern part of the city. The victims were also members of the Navy, authorities said. Officials identified them as US Navy Hospitalman Casey Nutt, 26, of Germantown and Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Carlos Portugal, 36, of Frederick.
Frederick Police Chief Jason Lando said during a press conference Woldesenbet achieved the rank of E-4 and lived in Frederick. He was married, and the FBI interviewed his wife, according to WUSA9. He is from Virginia, according to Stars and Stripes. He was identified as a medical lab technician in 2019 meeting minutes from the Board of Regents Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences 208th Meeting.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Woldesenbet Was a Navy Medic Who Attended the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland as a Medical Lab Technician Student
Woldesenbet attended the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland as a medical lab technician student. He was projected to graduate in December 2019, according to a letter from the school’s chief academic officer and dean.
Here is the university’s list of expected December 2019 graduates, naming Waldesenbet:
Woldesenbet was stationed at Fort Detrick, law enforcement said. He was an E-4, or petty officer third class, Frederick Police Chief Jason Lando said during a press conference.
Woldesenbet achieved the rank of E-4 and lived in Frederick. Lando said the gunman used a rifle in the shooting. He lived in the city of Frederick, not on the military base, Lando said.
Woldesenbet was enlisted in September 2012 and was posted at the Naval Medical Research Center in Frederick in August 2019. During the seven-year period in between those assignments, he served at military facilities in San Antonio, Texas; Camp Lejeune in North Carolina; Corpus Christi, Texas; Bremerton, Washington; and Portsmouth, Virginia, according to CBS Local. During his time in the service, he was awarded a Good Conduct Medal, a National Defense Service Medal and a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
The location of the shooting was at a military institution in the tech park, according to Lando.
“It’s tied to the military, to the navy, and that’s where the shooting took place, so there is a connection to the navy there,” he said.
A motive is still under investigation, and authorities did not speculate about why Woldesenbet allegedly opened fire.
“We are still investigating motive, investigating the exact circumstances,” Army Brig. Gen. Michael J. Talley told reporters at an afternoon news conference.
2. Woldesenbet Was an E-4 Posted at Fort Detrick in Research & Development; He Lived Off Base With His Wife & 2 Children
Woldesenbet was married, and the FBI interviewed his wife. They lived together in Frederick with two children, FBI agents told WUSA9.
The shooting occurred about 10 minutes away from Fort Detrick at a 44-acre federally funded research and development center, according to a brochure for the Riverside Technology Park. The six-building business park includes the National Cancer Institute’s only federally funded research and development center, Charles River Laboratories and the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.
“The location of the initial shooting is a warehouse rented by Naval Medical Research Center, Biological Defense Research Directorate to store research supplies and equipment,” law enforcement wrote in a joint press release.
The U.S. Navy was quick to confirm the shooting at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, saying a Navy Hospital Corpsman was the shooter. Woldesenbet was later identified by authorities as the gunman. He was killed minutes after the initial shooting, the Navy wrote on Twitter just before 11 a.m. Fort Detrick released a statement saying the situation was “neutralized” when the suspect “breached” the Nalin Pond Gate. Personnel attempted to revive him, but he was pronounced dead on the scene, the statement said.
SHOOTING INCIDENT (ACTIVE SHOOTER — RESOLVED)
FORT DETRICK, Maryland—Fort Detrick Police have neutralized an active shooter situation involving an armed gunman.
After a shooting incident off post, the suspect breached the Nalin Pond gate located off of Opposumtown Pike. The gunman was neutralized, and medical lifesaving procedures were initiated. The gunman was pronounced dead at the scene.
“Our number one priority is the safety of our people,” said U.S. Army Garrison Fort Detrick Commander Col. Dexter Nunnally. “Our emergency responders are well trained for these types of situations and the fast response of our military police enabled us to contain this threat quickly.”
Fort Detrick and local law enforcement are continuing to investigate this incident.
The Navy statement also said the gunman had been killed.
“The U.S. Navy can confirm there was an active shooter incident at Fort Detrick, MD involving U.S. Navy Sailors. The shooter, a Navy Hospital Corpsman, is deceased. We will continue to update with additional details as the situation evolves,” the Navy wrote on Twitter. “#USNavy can confirm there was an active shooter incident at Fort Detrick, MD involving U.S. Navy Sailors. We will continue to update with additional details as the situation evolves.”
Fort Detrick later posted a statement on Facebook saying parts of the installation were closed due to the ongoing investigation.
“Due to events that transpired this morning there are ongoing investigations taking place on the installation,” the statement said. “Police have cordoned off those areas of the installation, so those areas are now off limits, and they are identified by cones, police tape or Traffic Control Point personnel. At the moment the Nalin Gate is part of that area and is currently closed, please use Veterans and Old Farm Gates for access on and off the post.”
3. Woldesenbet Was From Virginia & The Two Victims Were Both Sailors & Flown by Medical Helicopter With Serious Injuries
Law enforcement identified the shooting victims as two Navy hospital corpsman in a press release. Nutt was found by Nicolock employees when he fled the shooting scene and sought help. He was released from the hospital in the hours after the shooting. Portugal was found by Frederick Police in the warehouse where he was shot. He remains at the trauma center in critical condition, police said.
“Our partnering agencies are providing resources and support for the victims and their families during this time to ensure the highest quality care. The agencies are also providing resources and support for the subject’s family during this time. Our agencies ask that all media respect the privacy of the victims and their families at this time,” the press release said.
Police had been called to the shooting scene at Riverside Tech Park at about 8:20 a.m., which is about a 4-mile drive east of Fort Detrick, Lando said. He said the victims were both sailors, and they were critically injured. One of the victims remained in critical but stable condition at Baltimore Shock Trauma Tuesday afternoon, and the second victim was released later Tuesday, according to the U.S. Navy. Lando said the families of the victims were notified. Woldesenbet is a Virginia native, according to Stars and Stripes.
“Fort Detrick Shooting UPDATE: One of the shooter’s two victims was released from the hospital this afternoon; while the other Sailor remains in critical condition,” the Navy said in a statement on Twitter. “The Navy is sending a SPRINT (Special Psychiatric Rapid Intervention Team) to provide mental health support to the Fort Detrick community. We send our deepest condolences to all affected by this terrible act of violence and will continue to support the investigation.”
Lando described the active shooting incident as a situation with two crime scenes, the first at the Riverside Tech Park and the second at the U.S. Army garrison. Lando said the victims were flown by medical helicopters to trauma centers in Baltimore.
Authorities did not give any additional information about Woldesenbet or his relationship to the victims. They did not say what his job was in the navy or whether he knew the victims.
The victims, who were both adult males, suffered life-threatening injuries, law enforcement wrote in a joint press release. They were both active duty sailors assigned to Fort Detrick.
A 911 call came from Nicolock Paving Stones, located in the industrial park, after a person went into the business seeking help. That led to early and inacurrate reports indicating the shooting occurred at the business. Nicolock Paving Stones released a statement clarifying the events and the shooting’s location.
“A recent report has indicated that a shooting took place today at the Nicolock Paving Stones facility in Frederick, MD. However, this is not correct,” the statement said. “There was a shooting within the industrial park where the Nicolock facility is located, and a victim entered our property seeking help. Our team was able to assist them and called the authorities. We are pleased to report that all the Nicolock employees are safe.”
The FBI is leading the investigation of the shooting at Fort Detrick, and the Frederick Police Department is leading the investigation at the business park. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Maryland State Police, and the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office are also assisting in the investigation, officials said.
“The agency’s response to this incident was assisted by strong collaboration from partnering agencies including, Fort Detrick, FBI Baltimore, ATF, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police and the Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services,” a joint press release said.
4. Woldesenbet Joined the Navy in 2012, Received 4 Awards & Had Never Been Deployed, Records Show
Woldesenbet enlisted in the Navy in September 2012, according to his official Navy service record reviewed by Stars and Stripes. He achieved the E-4 rank in June 2017 while he was serving with Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command in Bremerton, Washington.
Woldesenbet was assigned to the Naval Medical Research Center in Frederick Aug. 5, 2019, Stars and Stripes reported. His service record listed four awards and did not list any overseas deployments.
Woldesenbet entered Fort Detrick in his personal vehicle at about 8:45 a.m., about 25 minutes after the shooting, Army Brigadier General Michael J. Talley said during a press conference. Law enforcement had put out information on the suspect’s vehicle in a be-on-the-lookout alert, or BOLO, prompting gate security to stop Woldesenbet. Personnel at the gate were verifying the information when they said Woldesenbet proceeded through the checkpoint and later got out of the car and brandished a firearm about half a mile away, prompting personnel to shoot him. They performed life-saving measures on Woldensebet, but he was pronounced dead on the scene, Talley said.
“The subject was stopped at the gate. Before he was able to be searched, he sped past the gate, made it about a half mile into the installation. He was pursued immediately,” Talley said.
Woldesenbet was shot by the military installation’s civilian police department, officials said.
Fort Detrick is a U.S. Army garrison with a population of about 10,000, which includes both military personnel and civilians, according to the U.S. Military. The garrison is an MRDC installation, or a U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (MRDC) installation known for biomedical research. The MRDC’s mission is “supporting a multi-governmental community that conducts biomedical research and development, medical material management, worldwide communications, and the study of foreign plant pathogens.”
“The US Army Garrison, Fort Detrick, provides sustainable base operations support, quality of life programs, and environmental stewardship to facilitate the sustainment of vital national interests,” the U.S. Military writes.
Fort Detrick supports the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Agriculture, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Health and Human Services. Within the DoD, Fort Detrick supports all four branches of the military, the military said.
Fort Detrick made headlines in 2008 when Army biologist Bruce Edwards Ivins died by suicide on the base after learning he would be named as a suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks. He was never formally charged with mailing the letters that killed five people. ProPublica reported in 2011 there was some doubt whether Ivins was the perpetrator.
5. Officials Released Very Little Information About the Alleged Gunman & a Witness Said Waldesenbet Knew at Least One of the Victims
Waldesenbet knew at least one of the men he allegedly shot, a witness told WUSA9.
“Frederick Shooting Update >> 1 of the sailors shot this morning said he *knew* the shooter, Fantahun Woldesenbet. That’s according to a nearby business owner, who helped the victim,” Mike Valerio of WUSA9 and CBS Evening News wrote on Twitter.
Jeremy Mutschler, the director of marketing and advertising for Nicolock Paving Stones & Retaining Walls located in the business park, told the Frederick News Post that two or three employees spotted one of the victims entering the business warehouse. It happened just moments after the shooting, which occurred across the street from the warehouse. Those employees included a former member of the military. The group tended to the victim and secured the building, Mutschler said.
Officials acknowledged they were releasing very limited information on Woldesenbet, but said they did not want to compromise an ongoing investigation.
“I respect what you’re getting at,” Lando said during an afternoon press conference after a reporter asked if Woldesenbet knew the victims. “Probably what you don’t see is 50 detectives trying to figure all that information out. So for me to even speculate on that would be inappropriate.”
The Frederick Police Department, Fort Detrick and the Federal Bureau of Investigations Baltimore Field Office released an image of Woldesenbet on the afternoon of April 7, 2021, more than 24 hours after he allegedly opened fire at Riverside Tech Park in Frederick and then died after reportedly brandishing a gun at Fort Detrick.
“Frederick Police Department, in coordination with cooperating agencies investigating an active shooter incident Tuesday, is releasing the photo of subject Fantahun Girma Woldesenbet, 38, of Frederick, who was shot and killed by Fort Detrick’s civilian military police after initially shooting two people in the 8400 Block of Progress Drive and then driving onto Fort Detrick,” the press release said.
The statement continued with an acknowledgment of the limited information that has been released, but said they want to maintain the integrity of the investigation. It further said that the public should rely on information from trusted sources and avoid rumors.
The statement said:
Additionally, our agencies know the public and the media want answers regarding this incident and the subsequent investigation. We do as well. Investigations take time. When the agencies have information that we have confirmed we will release it via the FPD’s news alert system, which everyone, including media partners, can sign up for at cityoffrederickmd.gov/alerts.
Until then, we want to ensure the public we are investigating this incident from all angles and we encourage all residents and media partners to avoid speculation or rumors regarding details of the investigation. Unverified misinformation can prove harmful to the investigation.
The witnesses said the victim had been shot in the upper chest or neck area, and described a “significant amount of blood,” Mutschler told the newspaper.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan commended law enforcement on the state, local and federal level for their swift response to the active shooter situation in a statement on Twitter.
“I want to thank the federal, state, and local law enforcement officials for responding swiftly to the incident this morning in Frederick. We are keeping the victims in our prayers and @MDSP will continue to assist in the investigation,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Tragic events in @FrederickMD today,” wrote U.S. Senator Ben Cardin on Twitter. “My thoughts are with the victims and their families. I am closely following developments and appreciate the updates from the @USNavy.”
“It’s terrible, it’s unfortunate, it’s very tragic,” he said. “It’s happening too frequently. Every time we turn on the TV, we see something like this happen, and now it’s happening in our back yard. No one wants to see this type of thing.”