Shots hit Pentagon; temporary road closures around building for investigation

Someone fired shots at the Pentagon early Tuesday, hitting the building and causing minor damage, U.S. defence officials said.

WASHINGTON — Someone fired shots at the Pentagon early Tuesday, hitting the building and causing minor damage, U.S. defence officials said.

Police who protect the massive Defence Department headquarters temporarily closed some road and pedestrian entrances to the building after a civilian reported he may have heard shots at just before dawn on the south side of the facility.

A sweep of the area and facility found that some shots had hit the building, Marine Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman said. He did not know how many or from what kind of weapon.

Roads and pedestrian entrances leading to the Pentagon were reopened but part of a nearby highway was later temporarily closed for part of the investigation.

A dozen police also were seen walking side-by-side in a line at mid-morning as they combed through a grassy area on the south side of the building.

Lapan said there were no injuries. In response to a question, he said he did not know whether there was any connection between Tuesday’s incident and Monday’s discovery of bullet holes in windows at the National Museum of the Marine Corps some 30 miles (50 kilometres) south of the Pentagon.

A cleaning crew at the museum associated with the Quantico Marine Base called police when they noticed the bullet holes in windows high up in a part of the building that faces a major highway.

Police believe the shots were fired at the museum late Saturday or early Sunday, when no one was inside. Investigators used a crane to inspect the damage Monday. Because of the height of the holes, police suspect the bullets were likely fired from a rifle, but they are still working to determine what calibre of bullet was used.

Several glass panels were hit, causing about $20,000 in damage. None of the museum’s artifacts — including a harrier jet hanging near the damaged windows — were hit.

Lapan said this was the first incident of its kind since early March, when a gunman opened fire at a security checkpoint into the Pentagon in a point-blank attack that wounded two police officers.

The shooter, identified as John Patrick Bedell, 36, was shot by police and died hours after being admitted to a hospital in critical condition. Authorities had no motive for the shooting, but there had been signs that Bedell may have harboured resentment for the military and had doubts about the facts behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States.

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