Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Sept. 27, 2019 —
In an era fraught with mass shootings and incidents of violence in the workplace, the safety of McNamara Headquarters Complex employees can’t be overstated. Defense Logistics Agency Headquarters police regularly hone their skills in responding to active shooters, as they in did during a Sept. 26 exercise.
Exercises are held annually at the HQC and help agency law enforcement coordinate with Fort Belvoir police officers and first responders, ensuring they communicate effectively and address potential vulnerabilities. During the simulations, police announce instructions to employees via the complex’s public address system and AtHoc voicemails and emails to help them respond as they would during an actual emergency.
The real-world scenario involved two actors. Defense Contract Audit Agency Support Services Administrative Specialist Adam Gates played a man delivering a package to DCAA Security Specialist Chelsie Norena, who portrayed a DLA mailroom employee.
What began as an innocuous verbal exchange about the package quickly escalated into a violent attack when Norena informed Gates she did not order the item and told him he was being terminated as a result of the misdirected package.
While Norena remained calm, Gates became increasingly agitated. Stepping back, he slammed the box to the warehouse floor and pulled out a gun.
Gates mimed firing multiple shots at Norena, who collapsed to the ground and knocked over a barrel containing hazardous waste as “smoke” began to fill the warehouse. Gates dropped the gun and ran toward the back exit, shouting, “I didn’t mean to do that!” His panicked attempts at escape led him to crouch behind some crates and push against the door repeatedly, trying to open it.
Seconds later, police entered through the door opposite the suspect. They ordered Gates to stand up, raise his hands and face the wall. Both parties shouted to each other as the sound of approaching sirens drifted in through the bay doors. More police officers entered the door nearest the suspect and took him into custody.
The whole event unfolded in less than five minutes.
As the team went over the exercise details during the after-action review, they recognized what went according to plan, what didn’t and how they can improve. That’s what the exercise was all about, learning and improving the DLA police force’s tools, tactics and techniques to keep employees safe.