Tightened security at Naval Station Great Lakes, LFHCC
By Judy Masterson email@example.com September 16, 2013 1:36PM
Tightened security at Naval Station Great Lakes main gate caused minor traffic backups early afternoon Monday, Sept. 16. | Judy Masterson/Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 18, 2013 6:12AM
Lovell Federal Health Care Center, the nation’s first combined VA/military hospital, was in a state of “heightened awareness” on Monday, according to spokesman Jayna Legg, who noted a similar alert was observed on the anniversary of 9/11 last week.
As many as two gunmen opened fire Monday inside one of the Navy’s oldest buildings, attacking office workers at a heavily guarded military facility in the heart of the nation’s capital. At least 13 people were killed.
One of the gunmen, Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old from Texas, was dead, and police were searching for a second suspect, who may have been dressed in military-style clothing, in the attack at the Washington Navy Yard.
Alexis trained at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center near North Chicago. He was at the Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes from May 8, 2007, until July 10, 2007, according to the Navy Lt. Megan Shutka.
“Right now that hasn’t progressed,” Legg said Monday afternoon and added: “Safety is always first.”
Naval Station Great Lakes spokesman Ken Cronk, refused to discuss security at the base on Monday. But traffic heading through the Main Gate on Sheridan Road in North Chicago was backed-up by early afternoon in what appeared to be tightened security measures.
“A lot of my friends are stationed all over,” said Seaman Gabriel Mrosla, who stopped by Naval Station Great Lakes Visitor Center in North Chicago. “We just got our of boot camp and now this happens.” A native of Little Falls, Minn., Mrosla, who turns 23 on Tuesday, Sept. 17, enlisted for four years and is set to begin training at Naval Station Great Lakes.
About a mile west, at the Navy Exchange and Commissary, some Navy personnel were unaware that the mass shooting had occurred, including a Petty Officer 2nd Class renting a DVD from a Red Box machine.
Others, including Lt. Denise Chiu said she had just heard about the incident.
“It’s a tragedy,” Chiu said and declined further comment.
“It’s not good,” said Marine Corps veteran Miguel Delgado of Beach Park, who served for eight years.
Theresea Wasson of Waukegan, whose husband served as a Navy corpsman, said the Navy Yards shooting brought the Fort Hood massacre of 2009 to mind.
“I’m glad my husband’s done, retired,” Wasson said. “He served in Desert Storm in the Mideast 20 years ago and it still hasn’t gotten better. Wasson spent Monday morning at Lovell, where she said it was “business as usual” but that the base was likely a different story.
“Anytime something like this happens, security immediately ramps up,” she said.
World War II veteran Lou Coffey of Lake Villa, who left the Air Force as a master sergeant, said he was anxious to get to his car to hear the latest update on the shooting.
Coffey, a retired deputy sheriff, conjectured that the shooting was related to the turmoil in Syria, and that it had been committed by a “home-grown terrorist.”
“Until we can get our act straight, stuff like this will continue to happen,” Coffey said. “It’s foolish to go in there (Syria). It’s none of our business.”