When there's a national tragedy such as Monday's shooting at the Washington Naval Ship Yard that killed 13 people, there are always ripple effects throughout the country as friends and family await news of loved ones who may have been in the line of fire. Paul and Judy Loomis of Blackfoot were among those waiting with bated breath for news of their son, Jared Loomis, who was working in the Navy Yard building at the time - just down the hall from the shootings.
Jared, 32, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot for the Virginia National Guard, works at the Naval Ship Yard about once a week as a technical writer - writing manuals for various U.S. Navy contracts.
Mother Judy said she was in Utah for a family gathering when around 9 a.m. (Mountain Time) she read the news on the Internet about the shooting spree at the hands of single gunman - 34-year-old Aaron Alexis.
"My first thought was 'this is where my son goes.' Words can't describe the feelings that hit me," she said.
Judy said she immediately sent her son a text message on his cell phone but got no reply. Knowing that upon entering the Naval Yard, cell phones have to be checked in for security purposes, Judy then texted Jared's wife Mikenzie in hope of getting word on her son's whereabouts.
Jared had gotten word to Mikenzie from a landline that while he had been just down the hall from the gunfire, he was safe and in a secure location.
Judy said said that even though she'd received word that her son was safe, she still had an intense feeling of uneasiness until she was actually able to hear his voice. Due to the lockdown at the Navy Yard, Jared was not able to leave the premises and go home for nearly six hours.
Judy became emotional describing how she felt when she finally got to speak with Jared.
After ensuring his mother that "he was O.K.," Jared told his mother what he experienced. He said that about 20 minutes into an 8 a.m. meeting on the first floor of the building, he heard "loud sounds and commotion that sounded like people dropping things" and thought it was possibly some construction workers making the noise. Jared stepped out into the hallway to hear a security officer exclaim, "It's a shooter!"
Jared said he ushered his boss and two co-workers to the nearest exit, triggering an alarm. He said that there were others in the vicinity who chose to go other directions. Jared and his trio made it outside the building where they were able to take cover in a nearby museum. Jared believes that the gunman made it to the area where he had been working, shooting the security officer on the floor.
Jared, the father of a 6-month old daughter, had often discussed with his own father, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, what he would do in such situation. "My goal was to get the people out of the building, safe and under cover," he said.
Judy said that Jared was understandably shaken by the incident and that he is reliving it in his mind and wondering if he "should've done something different."
Paul, a candidate for mayor of Blackfoot, became visibly emotional while sharing some comments about the tragedy at a candidates luncheon on Tuesday. He said, "I believe my son was right where he needed to be."
"I raised my sons to serve. I want them serving and riding toward the sounds of the guns, not running away from the guns," he stated.
The Loomises have six children; three of them are involved in military through active duty, reserve and national guard units. Another son has served in Germany, Korea and twice in Iraq.
"Having sons in the military, there is always that fear that something will happen," Judy concluded. "When things happen throughout the United State, you feel it everywhere...everyplace...and it hit home - right here."