Offices and furniture are removed and a construction overhaul has begun inside Building 197 of the Washington Navy Yard, site of a mass shooting spree in September 2013, according to images obtained by the News4 I-Team.
A series of new photos from inside Building 197, former headquarters of United States Naval Sea Systems Command, show construction equipment, debris and packed boxes fill the rooms once used as offices for the building’s 3,000 employees.
The photos were publicly released by Naval Sea Systems Command. The I-Team’s Scott MacFarlane’s Freedom of Information Act request for other images -- to a separate Navy office – were rejected and triggered an apology from a Navy official and a highly publicized flub by the Navy’s FOIA office.
Crews have erected green protective fencing along the perimeter of the building, and locked access gates, as they complete a $44 million renovation of the facility. Naval Sea Systems Command has relocated its work to a temporary office space, housed inside a former US Coast Guard facility, near Fort McNair in southwest Washington, D.C.
The transformation of Building 197, which is scheduled to re-open in February, will include a new remembrance area for the 12 victims of the shootings. The building’s previous visitor’s entrance will be shuttered, because one of the shooting victims was shot and killed at the entrance, a shooting witnessed by a large number of the agency’s workers, according to Naval Sea Systems Commander Vice Admiral William Hilardes.
A new entrance will be built near an old emergency exit on the building’s backside, the I-Team reports.
Hilardes said the renovations will include “enough changes to give (Building 197) a different look and feel.” He said some of the agency’s employees will not return to the building, because of the trauma suffered in the shooting spree.
Hilardes said, “We want (the workers) to come back. That's the message. We know you're hurting. We know the doctors say you need more counseling. But the best place to be is with us. We shared this experience.”
The News4 I-Team reports the Navy used about 400 counselors and religious chaplains to provide assistance to Building 197 employees in the wake of the shooting.