The officer who was fatally stabbed outside the Pentagon was identified by the Pentagon police force on Wednesday.
Officer George Gonzalez was a New York native and Army veteran who served in Iraq, according to the Pentagon Force Protection Agency. He’d been with the cops for three years. He died after being stabbed during a violent outburst at a transit center outside the building, and a suspect was shot and died at the scene.
The Pentagon, the United States’ military headquarters, was temporarily shut down Tuesday after a man attacked an officer on a bus platform shortly after 10:30 a.m. The ensuing violence, which included a barrage of gunshots, resulted in “several casualties,” according to Woodrow Kusse, the chief of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, which is in charge of security at the facility.
Multiple law enforcement officials identified the suspect as Austin William Lanz, 27, of Georgia.
According to two law enforcement officials, the officer was ambushed by Lanz, who ran at him and stabbed him in the neck. Officers on the scene then shot and killed Lanz. Investigators were still trying to figure out why Lanz carried out the attack and were looking into his background, including any history of mental illness or any reason he might have wanted to target the Pentagon or police officers.
Lanz enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in October 2012, but was “administratively separated” less than a month later and never earned the title Marine, according to the Corps.
According to online court records, Lanz was arrested in April in Cobb County, Georgia, on criminal trespassing and burglary charges. According to court records, Lanz was charged with six additional counts on the same day, including two counts of aggravated battery on police, one count of making a terrorist threat, and one count of rioting in a penal institution.
In May, a judge reduced his bond to $30,000 and released him with conditions, including that he not consume illegal drugs and undergo a mental health evaluation. The charges against him remained unresolved. The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Lanz had previously been detained at the agency’s detention center, but referred all other questions to the FBI’s field office in Washington. An attorney who represented Lanz in the Georgia cases did not immediately respond to a phone message and an email seeking comment, and messages left at Lanz’s home in the Atlanta suburb of Acworth, Georgia, were not returned.
The attack on a busy stretch of the Washington area’s transportation system on Tuesday jangled the nerves of a region already on high alert for violence and potential intruders outside federal government buildings, especially after the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Later Tuesday, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency issued a statement confirming the officer’s death, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed his condolences and said flags would be flown at half-staff at the Pentagon.
The attack took place on a Metro bus platform that is part of the Pentagon Transit Center, which serves as a hub for subway and bus lines. The station is located just steps away from the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington.
At the time of the shooting, Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were at the White House meeting with President Joe Biden. Austin returned to the building, according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, and went to the Pentagon police operations center to speak with officers there.
In 2010, a gunman approached two Pentagon Force Protection Agency officers at a security screening area and shot them. The officers who escaped fired back, fatally wounding the gunman, identified as John Patrick Bedell.