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D.C. departures resume after Navy Yard shooting

10:59 AM, Sep 16, 2013   |    comments
KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images
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Flights at Washington's Reagan National Airport are resuming this morning after all departures had been grounded in fallout from a shooting at a Navy facility in nearby Washington, D.C.

Departures had begun to resume at D.C.'s close-to-downtown airport as of 10:30 a.m., though the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) that operates the airport warned of "residual delays as we return to normal operations."

That comes after all departures had been halted for at least 30 minutes. Some arrivals also were delayed after the Federal Aviation Administration issued a "ground stop" for National-bound flights that had not yet taken off for D.C.

Rob Yingling, spokesman for MWAA, told Today in the Sky that the FAA had halted all aircraft departures this morning "because of a law enforcement incident at the Washington Navy Yard."

WUSA Channel 9 reported it appeared that about 30 planes were being held on the ground awaiting takeoff as of 10 a.m. ET.

The shooting incident occurred at the Washington Navy Yard facility, which is located only a few miles from National Airport. It was not immediately clear why the shooting prompted the flight restrictions at National Airport, though one possibility would be to reduce commercial air traffic at a time when emergency response aircraft are flying in the area surrounding the Navy Yard.

Yingling says operations have been normal throughout the day at Washington's Dulles International Airport, which is about 30 miles from downtown Washington.

As for National Airport, John Williams -- 23, of West Palm Beach -- was among those arriving on flights that landed following the shooting. As of 10:30 a.m. ET, he tells USA TODAY his flight -- US Airways Express Flight 3224 from West Palm Beach -- was waiting on the tarmac to proceed to a gate.

Williams says the pilot informed the passengers over the intercom that there was a shooting once the plane had landed.

"The pilot said that there was a shooting and no planes are allowed to depart so the airport is full of planes waiting to take off," Williams says. "They let us land. It will be 15 minutes until we can park at gate."

Williams says passengers were busy on their phones, updating their rides about the delay and asking for news updates.

"Most people are on their phones talking about how they'll miss connecting flights," Williams says.

Contributing: Natalie DiBlasio

Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY

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