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County native at epicenter of terror at Navy Yard

South Boston native Bryan Holberton was there.  He heard the gunshots that blew apart his otherwise busy Monday morning routine at the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard.

Holberton, the son of George and Anita Holberton of South Boston and a civilian government employee for the U. S. Navy, works in Building 197, the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters and the epicenter of the tragedy that unfolded on Monday.

Holberton, the husband of county native Cindy Conner Holberton, managed to escape his office and was not injured in the shooting rampage that killed at least 13 people, including the gunman.

Gunfire erupted Monday morning at approximately 8 a.m. at the Navy Yard, a secured military installation that currently serves as a ceremonial and administrative center for the U.S. Navy.

Federal authorities believe the act was the work of a lone gunman, identified as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, a former naval reservist who was working for a military contractor.

Police officers exchanged fire with Alexis, with the suspect dying at the scene from his wounds.

Authorities locked down part of the nation’s capital for most of the day Monday looking for two other armed men in addition to the gunman, before determining Alexis acted alone.

Officials said Alexis, who was carrying an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and a semiautomatic pistol, drove a rental car to the base and entered using his access as a contractor and shot one officer and another person outside Building 197.

Once inside, he made his way to a floor overlooking an atrium and took aim at employees eating breakfast below.

Eight people were injured during the onslaught, three of them being shot.

Navy officials said Alexis was given a general discharge in 2011 after exhibiting a pattern of misbehavior.

The year before, he was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, for discharging a firearm, and police in Seattle, Wash., confirmed they had arrested Alexis in 2004 for shooting the tires of another man’s vehicle. 

Only essential personnel were allowed to return to the Navy Yard on Tuesday as the investigation continued.