Warren native witnesses shooting

Todd Brundidge

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A Warren native who works for Navy Sea Systems Command headquartered in the same building where a shooter opened fire and killed 12 people witnessed the shootings.

Todd Brundidge said he saw shooter Aaron Alexis open fire on colleagues.

“It was maybe two or three seconds,” Brundidge said. “We got a look at the guy and as we were going out the door, he turned and he started shooting. And then we immediately made a left to go down the stairs to get out of the building.”

One of the victims was a graduate of Slippery Rock University.

Frank Kohler, 50, was a past president of the Rotary Club in Lexington Park, Md. As such, he proudly held the title of “King Oyster” at the annual festival celebrating the region’s signature bivalve the third weekend of each October.

“He walks around with a crown and robe and gives out candy,” said Bob Allen, Kohler’s former boss at Lockheed Martin in southern Maryland. “In fact, he was in charge of the beer stand. I used to have that job and when I left, I handed it off to him.”

The married father of two college-age daughters had driven up to the Washington Navy Yard for a meeting Monday when the shootings occurred, friends told Allen. Allen said Kohler had taken over for him as site manager for the defense contractor, but he was unsure what business his friend had at the Navy Yard.

Allen said Kohler, a graduate of Pennsylvania’s Slippery Rock University, was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and an avid, though not overly skilled, golfer.

“He could probably shoot in the low 90s,” Allen said in a telephone interview Tuesday from Bradenton, Fla. When Allen retired, Kohler picked his gift, which was a gold pocket watch with the inscription, “From your friends in Lockheed Martin to help you putt into the future.”

Kohler lived on the water with his wife, Michelle, an employee at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Allen said his friend loved to boat and fish, and went on frequent hunting trips to Canada.

“A great family man, a Christian, and a great friend,” he said. “It just doesn’t seem possible. I mean, you hear about these things all the time … But when you know somebody, it just makes it all the worse … It’s a huge loss for southern Maryland.”

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