Friday, December 13, 2013
Jack Goldberg spent much of Monday worried about his friends and former co-workers at the Washington Navy Yard, where at least 12 people were killed Monday.
The 62-year-old Skowhegan native and retired mechanical engineer worked 10 years on the third floor, where witnesses said some of the shootings took place, before retiring three years ago.
“People were killed on my floor, probably not too far from where I would have been sitting if I was still there,” Goldberg, of Alexandria, Va., said in a telephone interview.
Goldberg was watching CNN on Monday and waiting for news of one 70-year-old friend he was particularly concerned about who works on the third floor and has a heart condition, he said.
Goldberg tried calling him and his wife but did not get an answer until he finally reached the man’s son in California at midafteroon. It was a great relief, he said.
“He said his father’s fine,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg worked on the third floor of what is known as Building 197 in the Washington Navy Yard, Headquarters of Naval Sea Systems Command.
He worked 28 years for Naval Sea Systems, starting in 1982 in Arlington. Naval Sea Systems moved to Washington in 2001.
Goldberg said the Navy Yard is a large base with many buildings. The building he worked at has five floors with about 600 people on each one, he said.
“It’s a pretty large base, but just to get into the base, you’ve got to show identification. It’s secured with high walls,” he said.
Goldberg said that when he worked at the base, he drove from his home 12 miles away and had to show an identification badge at the main gate, which was staffed by armed security guards. Then he had to swipe his badge to get into the building itself, which was near the main gate, he said.
“You can’t get in without proper identification, so how this guy got a rifle in there, I can’t figure out,” he said.
Goldberg said the building has two very wide main entrances with six doors each and when one walks inside, there’s a large atrium.
“You can look right up to the ceiling from the ground floors,” he said. “You see balconies. The people in the second, third, fourth and fifth floors can look over the balconies to the ground floor. From what I read, this fellow (shooter) was shooting down toward the open areas.”
Goldberg said he used to eat his lunch every day in the cafeteria on the ground floor, and the shooter was firing down into that cafeteria Monday.
The shootings brought back memories for Goldberg, who was working in the building on 9/11 and saw the thick black smoke rolling out of the Pentagon, across the river from his office, after a plane struck it.
“Everyone was listening to radios or the Internet because there were rumors of possible attacks of other locations in D.C.,” he said. “Nobody knew what was going on. After the attacks, the Navy base was just flooded with military people carrying rifles. Everything was just on high alert.”
He recalled driving home after work through thick black smoke from the Pentagon fire.
“I drove through the blowing smoke, and you could smell it, and it was terrible,” he said.
On Monday, as Goldberg watched news of the shootings, he saw a Navy captain say he was in a conference room on the third floor of Building 197.
“He said he heard the shootings and one of his co-workers on the third floor was shot and killed,” Goldberg said. “They said there were fatalities on the third floor and the fourth floor, so there’s probably a fair chance that when I see the names, that it’s somebody I recognize.”
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