Two active-duty Marines were reportedly shot and killed at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., late Thursday night by one of their fellow Marines.
The shooter died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds after killing a male and female Marine at Taylor Hall, a single barracks at the base' Officer Candidate School. The three Marines were all staff members at the school, Quantico officials say.
The base commander denied earlier speculation that there had been a standoff between the shooter and officers from Prince William County Police, who responded to the 911 call to the base's Provost Marshal's Office. Earlier reports that the shooter had barricaded himself are also incorrect.
"This is truly a tragic loss, again, for the Marine Corps, which has had a number of tragic losses in the last couple of weeks," said base commander Marine Col. David W. Maxwell. "All of the candidates at this school are accounted for and safe, and all of the other personnel as well."
An investigation is underway, he said. The identities of the three Marines killed will not be released for 24 hours or until their next-of-kin have been notified.
The base's Provost Marshal's Office first received a 911 call at 10:30 p.m. Thursday of an incident. Responding officers did not hear gunshots and did not fire any shots themselves. The base was shut down at 11 p.m., and reopened after 2:30 a.m. Friday, after authorities located the bodies of all three Marines.
A Marine official tells the Washington Post there was a lag time between finding the first and second victims.
News of the shooting comes days after seven Marines were killed in an explosion during live-fire training at Hawthorne Army Depot on Monday, roughly 100 miles south of Reno, Nev.
Initial reports indicate four were killed instantly and three others died of their wounds.
Pentagon press spokesman George Little said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was "saddened to learn of the shootings" at Quantico.
"This tragedy, as well as the tragedy in Nevada earlier this week, took the lives of Marines who volunteered to serve their nation," Little said in a written statement, adding that Hagel's "heart and his prayers are with them and their families."
"He believes that the legendary strength of the United States Marine Corps will ensure they are forever remember," Little said.
Quantico base and unit chaplains are providing counseling support, Maxwell said.
"As we take care of our Marines and their families that are dealing with this tragedy, I also ask for the support of our neighbors, the community and their thoughts and prayers for our Marines who have lose their comrades in arms," he said.
Quantico is one of the largest Marine bases on the East Coast and is located roughly 40 miles south of Washington, D.C. It is home to The Basic School, the mandatory training course for all Marine officers, and OCS which selects candidates to become Marine officers. The base is also home to the FBI Academy and a DEA training facility.
Corrected on : 3/25/2013: A previous version of this story misstated the date of the shooting. It occurred late Thursday night.