John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Navy Yard

Posted on September 16, 2013
Shooting Military Building

The Scene of the Shooting at Navy Yard About 4 Blocks From My House

It’s awfully hard to concentrate on work when a mass shooting happens about 4 blocks away from your house.

I had driven right by Nationals Stadium at 7am this morning, had taken a right on M Street and had gone up 3rd street back to my house, all the time merging with commuters who undoubtedly were driving into the Navy Yard, which provides an anchor to the Capitol Hill community.

It’s been around a long time, the Navy Yard, and it has seen both good times and bad times on Capitol Hill.

It was around at the very beginning of the American Republic.  It has seen the Civil War, the civil rights wars, the crack wars and the war on terror.

It has never see anything like this.

It is hard to know why Aaron Alexis, the alleged shooter, did what he did.  We still don’t know if he had an accomplice.  We still don’t know the names of those who died.  We still don’t know why the shooter could kill so many people so quickly.

That’s typical after things like this.

I remember vividly what happened in the aftermath of the Capitol Hill shooting in the 1997.   It was pure chaos.

I remember crouching at my desk and hearing rumors that it was a terrorist attack group of at least three.  That turned out not to be true.

I remember working in the Capitol on 9/11.  Rumors abounded that terrorists had attacked the State Department and that a plane was heading towards the building where we worked.   The State Department thing was false.  The plane going to the Capitol was almost true (if it weren't for those guys who said, let's roll).

In the aftermath of this attack, everything was locked down.  My son (who is 7) had his first opportunity to be in classroom that was locked down.  He had somehow heard that there was a robbery somewhere on H Street (very plausible scenario, by the way) and that was why he couldn’t go on recess.   At some point, I will explain to him about the Nay Yard attacks, but not yet.

I was going to go to work, but the rumors were flowing that two possible gunmen were in our neighborhood.  My wife wanted me to go home and protect our Nanny Mimi and my daughter Molly.

Protect them with what, I thought.  Jack’s baseball bat?

But I obliged by doing some conference calls from my bedroom.   It’s awfully hard to focus on conference calls when you are just little bit worried that a crazy group of terrorists might barge into your backyard.  But I did my best.

My wife had tickets to the baseball game tonight, and for some reason, the Nationals kept everybody is suspense about whether they would cancel the game, despite the fact that the First responders were doing Triage in on of their parking lots.

Note to management.   When emergency personnel are doing major triage in your team’s parking lots after a mass shooting, cancel the game immediately.    You don’t want to put the parking attendants in the unenviable position of kicking the First responders out to make room for the baseball fans.

For the record, the Nationals are playing the Braves, and if they sweep the Braves and the sweep the Marlins, they have a small chance that they can get to the playoffs.    I am pretty sure this shooting will prove to be a distraction from the playoff drive.

The Navy Yard neighborhood used to be really, really seedy and pretty dangerous.  It is now very hot, in a family friendly kind of way.  That’s why we live here.

I walk through my dog through the Navy Yard all of the time.  Free Concerts are held at water front, with food trucks, places to buy beer and there’s a pop-up water park that the kids absolutely love.

If you had walked through this area 15 years ago, you would have found some good places to see gay porn and of course, if you wanted some crack cocaine, you would have been in the right place.   This was not a family friendly place, in other words.

But then the Nationals moved in, the Housing projects were torn down, the gay night clubs were closed, and voila, you have a great place to take the kids on a Friday night.

It’s sad that to the rest of America, this will now be the place that 13 people were killed in a senseless tragedy.

But it is what it is.  And somehow, we will all have to carry on.

I don’t know why this had to happen and I don’t know yet who died.

But I do know that we all have to carry on, no matter what.  Because that is what we do.

Subscribe to the Feehery Theory Newsletter, exclusively on Substack.
Learn More