At approximately 9:15 a.m. on Dec. 10, a suspect attacked two security staff members at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Both security guards were hospitalized with injuries and the suspect surrendered to the local authorities after a standoff with police.
“There is no ongoing threat to the National Shrine, our staff or our visitors,” Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector at the National Shrine, said in a news conference that afternoon.
According to news reports, the male suspect reportedly arrived at the Shrine parking lot Tuesday morning and struck a female security guard with his car, pinning her between his vehicle and another car. He then proceeded to leave his vehicle and stabbed a male security guard in the lower level of the Basilica before returning to his car, striking the female security guard once again and then fleeing to the Brightwood neighborhood of Northwest Washington, about three miles away. He surrendered to the police after a standoff lasting approximately one hour.
“We are very grateful for the quick and professional response of the Catholic University police, D.C. Fire and EMS personnel and D.C. Metropolitan Police Department,” Msgr. Rossi said.
The suspect is believed to know the female victim but it is not confirmed whether or not the suspect knew the male victim.
“We do not believe there was anything targeting the basilica itself,” said Jacquelyn Hayes, the National Shrine's director of communications, who added that it is believed that the attack was directed toward the security guard.
The National Shrine has remained open for visitors and maintained its Mass schedule, however specific areas were closed during the investigation. Throughout the past several months, National Shrine staff has been looking into updating the security policy, said Msgr. Rossi, who visited the two injured security staff members in the hospital. He also offered Mass and prayers for the two victims and for the assailant.
“A member of our family has been struck, so that is difficult, but we are in solidarity,” Hayes said.
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