President Obama: 'Cowardly Act' at Navy Yard

The president comments on the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.
10:39 | 09/16/13

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Transcript for President Obama: 'Cowardly Act' at Navy Yard
This is an ABC news. Good afternoon for those of you just joining us I'm Josh Elliott we have the latest now. On the mass shooting at the Washington navy yard where at least ten people were shot and four. Have been confirmed as being killed today two officers. Among the wounded and that number is likely to rise law enforcement sources have told ABC news. That a shooter is dead in the navy yard complex while -- Washington DC police chief. Has just said that they are still searching for -- Potentially two additional shooters now President Obama. Had been scheduled to speak about the economy on this the fifth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse at the White House today but we are now hearing. That he will address this unfolding situation at the navy yard and -- we wait for the president. Let's bring in now our ABC's Pierre Thomas with the very latest here again -- what do we know about the shooter the one shooter. That we know has been confirmed dead. We're being told that this is a former. A navy official we don't know whether he's military or civilian employee. That this person is in their fifties. And there has been recent. Information about his employment status law enforcement officials are looking very closely at his background right now again they do have a name we're not releasing the name. Intensive background check is being done as far as those other two people that may be potential suspects they were identified as a black male and a white male. Where -- possibly wearing military -- Law enforcement officials are telling us on background of this is being checked out has not confirmed. But these are actually people involved but until they know for certain. As you can imagine there's a lot of confusion situation like this witnesses giving different types of counsel law enforcement officials want to get through before they make up. Official statements again we do have to eyewitness accounts will hear those after the president. Does speak about the shooting again a shooting said to have taken place just prior to 8:30 AM. Eastern time in building 197. At the navy yard in the initial naval sea systems command headquarters now this is a massive complex home. Some 3000 workers and -- -- did mention a very fluid situation with. Often times this morning conflicting. Eyewitness accounts again we are waiting to hear from President Obama he had a previously scheduled press conference today he was going to speak about the state. Of the US economy. Again though we do now know he will be speaking about this unfolding situation while we do wait if Jon Karl is there John what can you tell us about -- he was briefed. Josh the president was briefed on this just minutes after the initial reports of the shooting and was breached several times. As more details came in obviously something. -- a high priority here at the White House I'm also told the congressional leaders were also briefed on this all eyes on this you know that navy complex is right in it in the heart of Washington DC. Not far from Capitol Hill. And -- that this is something that's got to obviously repercussions. That go far beyond -- and there I see some people coming into the room we expect to hear from the president shortly unclear whether or not he will go on and give his previously planned. Economic speech that was supposed to start some forty minutes ago on the fifth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers obviously. That all kind of thrown into uncertainty. By this shooting at the navy yard. -- John Karl again there at the wire White House again. President Obama we wait for him. As John mentioned a previously scheduled press conference the president -- been scheduled to discuss the state of US economy five years after. The collapse collapse of Lehman Brothers however he will be speaking about the shooting -- -- may -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Before -- begin. Let me say a few words about the tragic news unfolding -- far away from here. At the Washington -- -- that's part of -- -- -- today it was delayed. I've been briefed by my team on the situation. We still don't know all the facts. But we do know that several people have been shot and some have been killed. So we're confronting. Yet another mass -- And today it happened on a military installation. In our nation's capital. It's a shooting that targeted our military and civilian personnel. These are men and women. Who won't work doing their job. Of protecting all of us. The patriots and they know the dangers. Of serving abroad. But today they face the unimaginable violence. That they warned -- expected here at home. So we offer our gratitude to the navy. And local law enforcement federal authorities. And the doctors who responded with skill and bravery. I've made it clear to my team that I want the investigation -- -- so that federal and local authorities are working together and as this investigation moves forward we will do everything in our power to make sure whoever carried out. This cowardly act is held responsible. -- in the meantime we send our thoughts and prayers. To all. -- the navy yard have been touched by this tragedy. We thank them for their service. We stand with the families. Of those who been harmed. They're gonna need our love and support and as we learn more about the courageous Americans who died today. Their lives the families of patriotism. We will honor their service to the nation they helped to make great. And obviously we're gonna be investigated thoroughly. What happened. As we do so many of these shooting sadly that have happened. And do everything -- weekend to try to prevent them. In recent weeks much of our -- been focused on the events insert. -- that was President Obama beginning a previously scheduled. A press conference on this the five fifty fifth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers he had been scheduled to simply be discussing the state of the US economy. But of course leading that. Press conference with comments about today's mass shooting at the Washington navy yard President Obama calling it a cowardly act targeting. Men and women who were just going to war he would call those. Men and women patriots and he emphasized repeatedly that this is an ongoing investigation echoing the words we just heard of DC police chief. Cathy Lanier who did say that. Investigators are still -- exploring the possibility of as many as two additional shooters. Still at large in the US navy yard complex and massive complex in southeast Washington home to 3000. -- workers again a shooting that. Occurred just before 8:30 AM eastern time shelter in place order was quickly. Put in place and we now want to turn to ABC's Lisa stark she is there at the scene. Lisa again this is an unfolding situation and now with the comments from the police chief the perhaps as many as two additional shooters. Are still at least being sought what can you tell us about the scene there. Absolutely because of that this scene remains locked off air all the offices in -- -- remain on lockdown including the Department of Transportation. The folks at national stadium they're having to make a decision about the baseball game tonight. Also all of the people in the navy yard still trying to figure out if there are two additional shooters. The US park police has helicopter circling the area looking for possible other suspects. The police chief though and the mayor did say they believe this is an isolated incident they did say that although as we said they are looking for two additional shooters. They did confirm there are fatalities people who remain in the building they would not confirm the number. Four people have been injured they have been taken to local hospitals one of those is -- DC police officer who engaged the suspect. That officer shot in the legs he is in surgery we are told. He is in stable condition and is expected to survive. But the scene does remain very fluid there are schools on lockdown in this area for a time even Reagan national airport -- shut down no planes -- A departing the airport. So as you can see they're still trying to figure out if they still have active shooters in the area. They're asking people to stay out of this part of Washington DC as they continue to search what they say is a very very large area. And -- Lisa -- thank you meanwhile we do want. To bring you the accounts of two eyewitnesses who spoke with our station there in Washington WG ALA. All about those moments in which they face the shooter down -- us. As we Aaron the fire alarm went off first and I was on the phone is somebody came -- my -- is -- it is not a firearm. Somebody has been shot in the building so we were around trying to -- -- ability. And as a -- -- the bag door. He we noticed him down the -- -- -- what we heard shots and it came around a corner he -- -- Canada and -- fired at least to the recess. And and we ran upstairs to -- that ability -- have with us today and -- were still -- ability -- any good gunning a youth rebellion -- -- a group of his name to guns and fired away. So you were there to yes -- Looking down the barrel -- He was far enough down the hall that we couldn't see his space but we could see him with a rifle and -- -- to name Dennis and -- -- -- high on the wall. Just as we were trying to -- what was going through your mind. Get everyone out of the building right now get everyone out of the building because there's someone shooting. Again to recap the situation. Just before 8:30 AM eastern time at least one shooter who's now confirmed dead. -- building 197 that the US naval yard at the naval sea systems command headquarters and opened fire. Killing at least four we can tell you -- and there are at least ten wounded we can also tell you that those numbers are expected. To rise again we will be monitoring this very fluid situation in keeping you updated. As events warrant we're gonna return you now to our regular programming and of course there will be a complete wrap up tonight. On world news with Diane Sawyer and you can get the latest anytime at I'm Josh Elliott. Your New York. This has been a special --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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