FORT LEE, Va. — A sergeant first-class with 14 years of military experience shot herself in the head after she barricaded herself in an office at Fort Lee Monday morning. She was rushed to VCU Medical Center where she later died.
“She was irate, started to throw things,” two-star General Stephen Lyons said. Today was Lyons’ first day on the job as command general of Combined Armed Services Command at Fort Lee.
Negotiators attempted to talk the soldier out of the room, but she didn’t listen, he said.
Fort Lee was placed on lock down during the negotiations.
“Right after the siren came ‘emergency-emergency!’”Clement Clark, a retired sergeant major visiting Petersburg National Battlefield, said. The sirens, the barricades, the evacuation, all created quite a commotion.
“There was a lot of craziness,” Stephen Cheeks, who was in the CASCOM building on the first floor, said. The distraught soldier was on the building’s third floor.
“They didn’t want us near the building at all,” Cheeks said. “We were only 30 minutes into work and a guy comes into the building and says everybody get out.”
Monday’s “active shooter” call got a response from both local and federal law enforcement agencies.
“It definitely wasn’t a drill, even though it ran smoothly like one of those exercises,” Cheeks said.
The post was locked down for about an hour. Visitors at nearby Petersburg National Battlefield were told to shelter at the visitor center or get in their cars and leave.
“We are sad for our soldier-in-arms,” Lyons said.
Cheeks said it was a difficult start to the week.
“Monday, you know, we are trying to shake the weekend off,” Cheeks said. “I didn’t expect all of this at Fort Lee.”
General Lyons said he would release more information as the investigation progresses. The soldier’s name would be released 24 hours after her next of kin has been notified.