WASHINGTON — It was 11 p.m. Thursday when loudspeakers abruptly blared at the Marine Corps Base Quantico in northern Virginia, ordering all residents to stay inside behind locked doors.
The grisly explanation emerged Friday: A Marine had shot and killed another male Marine, and then seized and fatally shot a female Marine. He then took his own life.
Col. David Maxwell, the base commander, said the incident was not a terrorist attack nor an attempt to cause mass casualties.
All three Marines were employees at the officer candidate school and knew one another, he said.
“This is a tragic loss for our Marine Corps family,” Maxwell said at a news conference at the base.
The identities of the three Marines was not released pending notification of their families. No one else was harmed.
Maxwell said the base provost marshal’s office received an emergency call at 10:30 p.m. Thursday reporting a possible shooting at the Taylor Hall barracks.
He said first responders rushed to the scene within five minutes and did not hear additional shots.
Base officials, unsure whether an assailant was on the loose, used the loudspeakers to put the base on Force Protection Delta status, restricting all outdoor movements and shutting all gates to traffic on or off the base.
Authorities ultimately entered the barracks and found three bodies. Base restrictions were lifted about 2:30 a.m.
“All clear. Emergency terminated. Resume operations on base,” came the announcement, according to the base’s Facebook page.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “was saddened to learn of the shootings,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement.
Little noted that the shootings followed the deaths of seven Marines on Monday, when a mortar exploded prematurely in a training exercise at an Army munitions depot in Nevada. Eight other service members were wounded.
“This tragedy, as well as the tragedy in Nevada earlier this week, took the lives of Marines who volunteered to serve their nation,” he said.