Birder, Volunteer Among Those Who Perish at Navy Yard
Richard Ridgell, a former state trooper, Kathy Gaarde, a bird-watcher, and Frank Kohler, a community volunteer, went to work at the Washington Navy Yard. Like nine other victims, they never came home.
They were among those killed on Sept. 16 by Aaron Alexis, a Navy contractor whose shooting spree at the facility a little more than a mile from the U.S. Capitol prompted fresh scrutiny of how the military reviews security clearances.
Alexis, 34, died in an exchange of gunfire with police after fatally shooting 12 people whose identities were released by Washington police.
Those dead ranged in age from 46 to 73 years old, according to the police, and their jobs included furniture installation, financial analysis and naval architecture, according to media and police reports yesterday.
Ridgell, 52, of Westminster, Maryland, worked in security and was a former Maryland state trooper, according to his father-in-law, Thomas C. Lyons, and the Maryland state police.
“He was very familiar with weapons,” Lyons said in a telephone interview. Ridgell had been employed by a number of security firms and his work had taken him to the Middle East, Lyons said. He was unsure if Ridgell was guarding the Navy Yard when he was shot.
Ridgell started with the Maryland State Police in 1983 and resigned in 2000 with the rank of corporal, said Sargent Marc Black, a spokesman for the force.
Ridgell coached softball for his daughters, Lyons said. And, like a true Marylander, he ate seafood.
“He loved his crabs,” Lyons said. “His steamed crabs.”
“I think everyone is in extreme shock,” Lyons said. “It’s been very traumatic.”
The mass killing prompted the Navy yesterday to begin a review of security clearances, which Alexis received in 2008 and held as an information-technology employee for a subcontractor of Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) The murders also prompted Congress to press the Pentagon to make public a report showing lapses in the way private contractors receive permission to work on bases.
Alexis entered the Navy Yard using a valid identification card tied to his work.
Gaarde, 62, of Woodbridge, Virginia, worked as a financial management analyst and “was a caring daughter, fantastic mother, wife (of 38 years) and best friend for 43 years,” her husband, Doug, said in an e-mailed statement that was distributed yesterday on behalf of the family.
‘Love My Husband’
She counted blue birds for a wildlife refuge near the couple’s home about 23 miles south of the Navy Yard, according to the statement. She held season tickets to the Washington Capitals hockey team for 25 years, according to the statement. She was a graduate of Florida State University.
The wife of another victim talked to a Washington television station about her husband of 30 years, Arthur Daniels, 51.
“All he did was went to work, that’s all,” Priscilla Daniels told WTTG television, according to a video posted by the Fox network station. “That man didn’t have to shoot my husband. I love my husband.”
Daniels worked as a handyman and reported to the Navy Yard on and off for 17 years, according to his widow. The Daniels family had five children and nine grandchildren, according to WTTG.
Kohler, 50, of Tall Timbers, Maryland, was past president of the Rotary Club in Lexington Park, Maryland, Jack Pappas, the current president, said in an interview.
To help the club raise money, he served several years ago as the Oyster King at a fall festival, Pappas said.
“I want to make sure Frank’s recognized for the good human being that he was,” Pappas said. Kohler was “a good Rotarian, is what everyone’s saying. That’s a lot. It means you do what you’re asked to, and you help out when you see that it needs to be done.”
Martin Bodrog, of Annandale, Virginia, 54, graduated from the U.S Naval Academy in 1981 and worked in the military for 22 years, according to an obituary e-mailed by a family friend, Jeffrey Prowse.
Bodrog taught Sunday school, helped shovel snow for his elderly neighbors and cheered for the Boston Bruins ice hockey team, according to the e-mailed statement.
“Marty was source of great inspiration to his family and friends,” and those who knew him “are better people for it,” according to the statement.
Bodrog leaves behind his wife, Melanie, of 25 years and three daughters: Isabel, 23; Sophie, 17; and Rita, 16.
Police identified the other victims as:
-- Michael Arnold, 59, of Lorton, Virginia;
-- Sylvia Frasier, 53, of Waldorf, Maryland;
-- John Roger Johnson, 73, of Derwood, Maryland;
-- Mary Francis Knight, 51, of Reston, Virginia
-- Vishnu Shalchendia Pandit, 61, of North Potomac, Maryland;
-- Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46, of Waldorf, Maryland; and
-- Gerald L. Read, 58, of Alexandria, Virginia.
Three wounded people, including a police officer taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center were “doing well” yesterday, with two in fair condition and one in good condition, So Young Pak, a spokeswoman for the facility in Washington, said in an e-mail.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Timothy Franklin at email@example.com