Dead Suspect in Pentagon Attack Was a Marine Corps Washout
The man faced a series of charges earlier this year tied to alleged offenses in Georgia, with a judge ordering that he be barred from owning guns while the cases progressed. Those charges haven’t moved forward in the Georgia court system, which has an extensive backlog due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pentagon was placed on lockdown for more than an hour Tuesday morning after a man ambushed a law enforcement officer at a Metro transit station just steps outside the building.
Austin Lanz, 27, of Georgia, was identified by law enforcement officials as the suspect, according to reporting from The Associated Press. He allegedly ran at one officer and stabbed him in the neck. Lanz was shot and killed by other responding officers. Officials are still investigating the motive behind the attack.
Lanz enlisted in the Marine Corps on Oct. 9, 2012, but was “administratively separated” on Nov. 2 that year, according to Maj. Jim Stenger, a Marine Corps spokesperson.
A new recruit or service member can be separated for a large roster of reasons, ranging from criminal issues, poor behavior, failure to meet military standards or drug abuse. It is unclear what led to Lanz’s swift dismissal.
“He never earned the title Marine,” Stenger said to Military.com in a statement.
Lanz was arrested in April in Cobb County, Georgia, on burglary and criminal trespassing charges, according to court records. A second criminal case was filed against him the same day on one count of making a terrorist threat, rioting in a penal institution and two counts of aggravated battery on police officers.
He was released on a $30,000 bond and ordered by the court to undergo a mental health evaluation and prohibited from ingesting alcohol or using illegal drugs. He also lost his rights to own firearms.
Military.com reached out several times to the attorney listed for Lanz in Georgia court records but did not get an immediate response.
Lanz also was ordered to stay away from a specific home address in Acworth, Georgia, and a man who resides there. That man declined to be interviewed when reached by phone by a Military.com reporter.
According to a court clerk for the Cobb County Magistrate Court, Lanz’s case was referred to Cobb County Superior Court. However, records indicate that the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office had yet to indict Lanz at the time of the shooting.
Latonia P. Hines, a spokeswoman for the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office, told Military.com that the case had yet to be presented to a grand jury. She added that empaneling grand juries had been held up by COVID-19 restrictions.
Pentagon officials identified the officer killed in the line of duty as George Gonzalez. He joined the Pentagon police force in 2018. He previously served in the Army and was an Iraq War veteran.
“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 Pentagon said in a statement.
Gonzalez, a native of Brooklyn, New York, was a “die-hard Yankees fan,” according to the Defense Department.
Details surrounding the attack are scarce, with Pentagon officials still withholding key details. At a press conference Tuesday, Woodrow Kusse, the chief of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, declined to answer any questions regarding what led up to the attack, or how many bystanders or other officers were injured.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were at the White House at the time of the attack for a scheduled meeting with the president, according to Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.
— Konstantin Toropin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.
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