George Gonzalez was a Pentagon police officer and decorated Army veteran who was killed when a suspect, identified by officials as Austin Williams Lanz, stabbed him outside the Pentagon’s Arlington, Virginia, metro station that serves the U.S. Military headquarters near Washington, D.C. He was identified in a statement from his department, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency. He was 37.
“End of Watch Aug. 3, 2021,” the statement said. “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.”
The FBI released a statement the day after the attack 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.
A GoFundMe was started to raise funds on behalf of Gonzalez.
Pentagon police chief Woodrow Kusse said in a Tuesday afternoon press conference “there were several injuries that resulted from the incident.” The burst of violence prompted a lockdown at the Pentagon and diverted traffic on the metro railway. The stabbing occurred at about 10:30 a.m. Eastern time at the metro station just steps away from the Pentagon, which services the facility.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Gonzalez He Joined the Pentagon Force Protection Agency in 2018 & Rose Through the Ranks, Earning the Title of Senior Officer in 2020
Gonzalez joined the Pentagon Force Protection Agency as a police officer on July 22, 2018, the PFPA wrote in a statement. He was promoted twice, becoming a Senior Officer in 2020, the agency said. Prior to joining the police department, he served with the U.S. Army and held positions with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Transportation Security Administration, the statement said.
“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,” the statement said. “Officer Gonzalez’s family is in our thoughts and prayers. May he rest in peace.”
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.
Fairfax County Police told The Washington Post officers were notified of the death of the Pentagon police officer in the hours after his passing. Fairfax Police Chief Kevin Davis instructed his officers to place “mourning bands” over their badges to honor the fallen officer.
The police department issued a statement on Twitter in memory of Gonzalez.
“We mourn with law enforcement agencies near and far after the tragic loss of a @PFPAOfficial officer today,” the Fairfax County Police Department wrote on Twitter. “Our deepest sympathies are with the officer’s family, fellow officers and loved ones.”
The Metropolitan Police in D.C. wrote a statement mourning the officer’s passing.
“Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the line of duty death of a @PFPAOfficial officer during today’s tragic events at the Pentagon,” the department wrote on Twitter. “The men and women of MPD offer our condolences, thoughts, and prayers to PFPA for their loss and to the officer’s family and friends.”
2. Gonzalez Was a U.S. Army Veteran & Earned the Army Commendation Medal for Service in Iraq
Gonzalez was a veteran of the U.S. Army and served in Iraq, where he earned the Army Commendation Medal, the PFPA said in a statement.
“As a Pentagon Police officer, he took our mission of ‘protecting those who protect our nation’ to heart,” the statement said. “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.”
Public officials wrote tributes to the family of the fallen Pentagon Police Officer in the moments after his death was announced.
“Praying for the family and colleagues of the police officer who lost his life today near the Pentagon, and for the safety of the surrounding community,” U.S. Representative Val Demings wrote on Twitter.
U.S. Representative Don Beyer wrote on Twitter he was monitoring the situation and thanked police for their efforts in keeping the community safe.
“Closely following the situation at the Pentagon Metro, where the scene is now secured,” he wrote on Twitter. “As we await more details from authorities, I am thankful for the efforts of law enforcement to keep everyone safe.”
“I’m incredibly saddened to learn about the passing of a Pentagon Police officer, who was killed earlier this morning in a senseless act of violence outside the Pentagon,” Senator Mark Warner wrote on Twitter. “My heart goes out to the officer’s family and friends, as well as the entire Pentagon Police force.”
U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Park Police, Metropolitan Police and Pentagon police led a procession leaving the hospital to escort the body of the fallen officer to the medical examiner’s office, ABC7 News reported.
3. Gonzalez Was a Brooklyn Native & a ‘Die-Hard Yankees Fan’
In addition to his dedication to public service, Gonzalez was remembered for his hometown and his favorite sports team — the Yankees. He was a native of Brooklyn, New York, and a “die-hard Yankees fan,” the PFPA statement said. He graduated from Canarsie High School in New York City, the statement said.
The Associated Press reported that Lanz “ambushed” the fallen officer, citing sources who said Lanz “ran at him and stabbed him in the neck. Responding officers then shot and killed Lanz.”
According to The Washington Post, Kusse “repeatedly deflected reporters’ questions about what had happened” in the incident during the Tuesday afternoon press conference, but he did say that “gunfire was exchanged,” the Associated Press reported.
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 in the hours after the deadly attack.
4. Officer Gonzalez Was Attacked With a Knife on the Pentagon Bus Platform & the Suspect Exchanged Fire With Responding Officers
The fatal incident started when the suspect “attacked” Gonzalez on the Pentagon bus platform, Kusse said during the press conference, which lasted less than 15 minutes. He did not release the name of the police officer at the time or confirm his death. Kusse also did not say in which order the events occurred, or what prompted the attack.
Kusse said law enforcement became aware of the incident through a radio call.
“We heard the call that an incident was underway,” he said.
Kusse focused his comments on the security of the facility and said there was no threat to the public. Pentagon officials later confirmed the officer’s death in a statement.
“@PFPAOfficial mourns the tragic loss of a Pentagon Police Officer killed during this morning’s incident at the Pentagon,” they wrote on Twitter. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Officer’s family. Additional info on the officer will be forthcoming, following full next of kin notification.”
5. Law Enforcement Gathered for a Procession to Escort the Fallen Officer From the Hospital & Held an End of Watch Ceremony
Law enforcement agencies gathered outside the George Washington University Hospital to escort the body of Gonzalez in a somber procession. Police officers saluted as a motorcade passed, including police motorcycles and a black, unmarked van, according to ABC7 News.
“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 ABC7 News also described the scene outside the hospital.
“A solemn feeling at the Pentagon,” she wrote. “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.”
Stephanie Ramirez of Fox 5 DC shared a video from another view of the procession.
“#JUST NOW by Independence & 4th NW – the police procession passes by with officers saluting a fallen law enforcement member as the ME van passes by,” she wrote on Twitter. “I’m told this is for the Pentagon officer who died after this morning’s shooting.”
Flags were flown at half staff outside the Pentagon, ordered by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“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,” Loyd said in a statement. “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.”
Resident Dave Statter shared a video of the flag Wednesday morning, the day after the violent attack, as investigators continued their work.
“Here’s the current view at the Pentagon Transit Center as the FBI continues working the scene a day after @PFPAOfficial officer was stabbed and killed and a man shot to death by police,” he wrote on Twitter.