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A madman almost killed me: How this man survived the Navy Yard shooting

Fifteen seconds. That’s the amount of time that shipyard operations analyst Rick Anderson guesses might have saved his life at Building 197 at the Navy Yard on Monday, Sept. 16. Unsure where the gunman was located on his floor, Anderson fled down a stairwell to safety. Within moments of that decision, his colleague Kathy Gaarde, who sat about 35 feet from him, was shot and later died.

“Baghdad was easy compared to this,” said Anderson, 50, who served two stints there as a civilian.

“Here it was someone in your workplace. You didn’t know where this person was. You can hear the shots going off but the shots were so diffuse … you couldn’t pinpoint where it was coming from. You don’t know whether you were going to run into the guy,” he said.

In the week after the shooting rampage by Navy contractor Aaron Alexis that killed 12 people, Anderson, who works in the Naval Sea Systems Command, considers himself lucky.

Alexis assembled his weapon in the fourth floor bathroom that he uses. If Alexis, who the FBI says was indiscriminate with his targets, had turned right out of that bathroom that morning, Anderson may not have made it out. Instead, he first veered left and toward the 4 West area, not 4 East, where Anderson’s cubicle is.

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