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Suspect in killing of Pentagon officer tried to join Marines, was recently arrested, officials say

The suspect, identified by multiple law enforcement officials as Austin William Lanz, was killed Tuesday after stabbing the officer in the neck, authorities said.

A man suspected of fatally stabbing a Pentagon police officer outside the Pentagon Metro entrance tried to join the U.S. Marines and had recently been charged in Georgia with aggravated battery on police, making a terrorist threat and other counts, authorities said.

The man, identified by multiple law enforcement officials as Austin William Lanz, 27, of Georgia, was killed Tuesday morning after investigators said he stabbed the officer multiple times in the neck.

The slain officer, identified by the Pentagon Force Protection Agency on Wednesday as George Gonzalez, fired on Lanz. However, it was unclear if Gonzalez or another officer hit the assailant with gunfire.

The officer, an Army veteran, joined the Pentagon Force Protection Agency in July 2018 and was promoted twice.

"A gregarious officer, he was well-liked and respected by his fellow officers," the agency said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Lanz enlisted in the Marines on Oct. 9, 2012, but was "administratively separated" on Nov. 2, 2012, "and never earned the title Marine," Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Jim Stenger said.

"Our sincerest condolences are with the family of the officer who was killed today," the official added.

Lanz was arrested in April in suburban Atlanta on criminal trespassing and burglary charges, according to Cobb County, Georgia, court records.

When deputies tried to book him at the county jail, he allegedly attacked a deputy "without warning" dislocating his thumb and damaging his taser beyond repair, according to a criminal warrant. He then attacked another deputy, chipping a bone in her knee and tearing her ACL, the document stated.

The warrant said Lanz "had to be restrained by multiple deputies."

He challenged deputies to a fight and "verbally stated he wanted to fight all the present deputies, stating the deputies were 'gay' for ganging up on him and asking to have his restraints removed so he could fight them one-on-one," the warrant said.

Image: Austin William Lanz
Austin William Lanz.Cobb County Sheriff's Office / AP

He was subsequently charged with two counts of aggravated battery on police, a count of making a terrorist threat and a charge for rioting in a penal institution, records show.

A judge reduced his bond in May to $30,000 and released him, imposing some conditions, including that he not ingest illegal drugs and that he undergo a mental health evaluation.

The charges against him are still listed as pending. A spokesman for the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Lanz had been previously held at the agency’s detention center but referred all other questions to the FBI’s field office in Washington, which is leading the investigation into Tuesday's violence.

Officials said they believe two bystanders at the busy transit hub, just steps from the Pentagon, were also injured.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday ordered flags be flown at half-staff at the Pentagon and extended his "deepest sympathies to the family, loved ones and colleagues" of Gonzalez.

"This fallen officer died in the line of duty, helping protect the tens of thousands of people who work in — and who visit — the Pentagon on a daily basis," Austin said.

Gonzalez "took our mission of 'protecting those who protect our nation' to heart," according to the statement from the Pentagon Force Protection Agency.

His family said in a statement tweeted by the Pentagon Force Protection Agency on Wednesday that it was "very proud of the life he lived.""George devoted his life to serving his country; first in the military, and then, as a law enforcement officer, he continued to serve by protecting service members and citizens of this country," his family said. "He had an infectious personality and was fiercely loved by his family and friends. He loved his country, his family, and the Yankees. He was one of the good guys with a big heart, and we will miss him always."

In the Army, Gonzalez served as a cannon crewmember from April 2003 to November 2005, and in the Army Reserve from November 2005 to March 2011, according to his service record.

He was deployed to Iraq from August 2004 to July 2005. When he left the Army, his rank was sergeant.

Gonzalez was awarded and decorated with the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Action Badge and Meritorious Unit Commendation.

He had also previously served with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Transportation Security Administration.

Gonzalez was a Brooklyn, New York, native and a "die-hard Yankees fan," the statement from the agency said. "Officer Gonzalez embodied our values of integrity and service to others."