The Pentagon police officer who was killed after an assailant stabbed him in the neck at a metro hub outside the Department of Defense headquarters was identified Wednesday as George Gonzalez, a native New Yorker who previously served in Iraq.
Gonzalez joined the Pentagon Force Protection Agency as a police officer on July 22, 2018. A military and police veteran, he had served previously with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Army.
He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for his service in Iraq. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he was a die-hard Yankees fan, the Pentagon Protection Agency said in a statement. He was a graduate of New York City’s Canarsie High School.
“As a Pentagon Police officer, he took our mission of ‘protecting those who protect our nation’ to heart,” the agency said. “He was promoted twice and attained the rank of Senior Officer in 2020. A gregarious officer, he was well-liked and respected by his fellow officers.”
“Officer Gonzalez embodied our values of integrity and service to others,” the statement continued. “As we mourn the loss of Officer Gonzalez, our commitment to serve and protect is stronger. Officer Gonzalez’s family is in our thoughts and prayers. May he rest in peace.”
The metro hub outside the Pentagon remained closed early Wednesday, as many questions still surround a burst of violence that happened there a day earlier that left the officer dead after being stabbed in the neck and a suspect killed by ensuing gunfire from responding law enforcement.
Pentagon Police Officer George Gonzalez. (Photo: Pentagon Force Protection Agency) (Pentagon Force Protection Agency)
More than 100 officers lined up outside the emergency room at George Washington University Hospital Tuesday, before members of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, U.S. Park Police and Pentagon Protection Agency were ordered to stand at attention around 1:30 p.m. to salute a black transport van as it rolled slowing out of the parking lot, Fox 5 DC reported. A police motorcade followed to pay tribute to the fallen officer.
The FBI is leading the investigation. Authorities have not formally identified the suspect who allegedly stabbed the officer in the neck in an ambush style attack on a bus platform shortly after 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. But the Associated Press identified the assailant as Austin William Lanz, 27, of Georgia.
“Gunfire was exchanged” on the platform, resulting in “several casualties,” Woodrow Kusse, the chief of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, which is responsible for security in the facility, said Tuesday. Responding officers then shot and killed Lanz. No potential motive has been announced.
Fox 5 DC reported that two bystanders may also have been injured by gunfire. Speaking at the only public address since the incident so far, Kusse also said Tuesday afternoon that the Pentagon complex was secure and “we are not actively looking for another suspect at this time.”
Lanz was arrested in April in Cobb County, Georgia, on criminal trespassing and burglary charges, the Associated Press reported, citing online court records. The same day, a separate criminal case was filed against Lanz with six additional charges, including two counts of aggravated battery on police, a count of making a terrorist threat and a charge for rioting in a penal institution, the records show.
A judge reduced his bond in May to $30,000 and released him, imposing some conditions, including that he not ingest illegal drugs and that he undergo a mental health evaluation. The charges against him were still listed as pending. A spokesman for the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Lanz had been previously held at the agency’s detention center but referred all other questions to the FBI’s field office in Washington.
Lanz had enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in October 2012 but was “administratively separated” less than a month later and never earned the title Marine, the Corps said in a statement.
The Pentagon Force Protection Agency issued a statement later Tuesday confirming the loss of the still unidentified officer, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin offered condolences and said flags at the Pentagon will be flown at 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,” Austin said in a statement. “This tragic death today is a stark reminder of the dangers they face and the sacrifices they make. We are forever grateful for that service and the courage with which it is rendered.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.