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Pentagon police officer, assailant killed in 'murky' altercation that briefly shut down the Pentagon

A Pentagon police officer died Tuesday after being attacked at the Pentagon Transit Center, the busy transportation hub located on the east side of the five-sided Defense Department headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. The unidentified officer's apparent assailant, unofficially identified as 27-year-old Georgia resident Austin Lanz, was killed in the encounter, The Washington Post reports. "But the circumstances of what transpired remained murky." 

In an afternoon press conference, Pentagon Force Protection Agency Chief Woodrow Kusse said the officer "was attacked on the Metro Bus platform" and "gunfire was exchanged," there were "several casualties," but "the situation has been resolved," the motive remains unknown, the FBI is leading the investigation, and more details will be released "as soon as possible." Casualties, USA Today noted, is "a term that can mean injured or deaths."

Later in the afternoon, after the Pentagon confirmed that the officer had died, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin offered his condolences and ordered flags at the Pentagon to half-staff. "This fallen officer died in the line of duty, helping protect the tens of thousands of people who work in — and who visit — the Pentagon on a daily basis," he said. "This tragic death today is a stark reminder of the dangers [he and his fellow officers] face and the sacrifices they make. We are forever grateful for that service and the courage with which it is rendered."

One law enforcement official said the officer had been stabbed, but reporters near the Pentagon said they heard multiple gunshots in two volleys and the police yelling "shooter." The incident prompted the Pentagon to go into lockdown for more than an hour on Tuesday, and two women exiting the Pentagon Tuesday afternoon told the Post they had been instructed to shelter in place for several hours.

The altercation was the first deadly incident at the Pentagon Transit Center since two Pentagon police officers were shot and wounded by a gunman who approached them at a security screening area in 2010. The gunman, John Patrick Bedell, was shot dead by the officers.