Census: ‘Security and safety of our employees is our top priority’

Census Bureau Director John Thompson described the shooting death of security guard Lawrence Buckner at the agency’s headquarters in Suitland, Md. Thursday night, as a “tragic and scary event for the Census Bureau family.”

“We know the situation last night was tense, especially for the hundreds of employees who sheltered in the building and in their cars for several hours not knowing when the incident would be over. The security and safety of...

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Census Bureau Director John Thompson described the shooting death of security guard Lawrence Buckner at the agency’s headquarters in Suitland, Md. Thursday night, as a “tragic and scary event for the Census Bureau family.”

“We know the situation last night was tense, especially for the hundreds of employees who sheltered in the building and in their cars for several hours not knowing when the incident would be over. The security and safety of our employees is our top priority and we appreciate everyone’s cooperation as law enforcement worked to clear the scene to make sure we were safe and free from danger,” Thompson said in a release.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and coworkers of Master Security Officer Lawrence Buckner, who was killed in the line of duty protecting us and other workers at the Suitland Federal Center. We commend the Federal Protective Service, FBI, Prince George’s County Police Department, and DC Metropolitan Police Department for their prompt response to the incident and thank them for their service.”

Lawrence Buckner (pictured front left). Photo courtesy of Master Security.

Buckner, 59, was a contractor working for the federal government through the Hunt Valley, Maryland-based company Master Security. The company said in a statement Friday that Buckner had served for about eight years in the U.S. Army and worked in the security field for more than two decades. He had been with Master Security for four years and leaves behind a wife, son and four grandchildren as well as a large extended family.

“Lawrence Buckner was a committed family man with a heart of gold. To those that had the privilege of knowing him, Lawrence’s unselfish approach to life caused him to always consider the needs of others, far and above his own,” the release said.

The man now charged in the crime spree during which Buckner was shot and later died, was previously convicted of manslaughter and recently was charged in an assault case involving his “visibly afraid” girlfriend, according to court documents obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

Ronald Anderson, 48, was charged with assaulting his girlfriend in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Prince George’s County on Feb. 17, according to court records.

The officer responding to a domestic dispute call said that the man’s girlfriend was clearly afraid.

“The victim was shaking, crying and was whispering while speaking because she was afraid of the suspect hearing her,” the officer wrote, according to the documents.

The woman, whose 10-month-old son was home, told police that Anderson had hit her several times, knocking her into walls, because he thought she was looking at another man, the records say.

Another court record filed in D.C. Superior Court shows that Anderson pleaded guilty to manslaughter while armed in 1991 in Washington, D.C. No other details were immediately available about that case. Anderson’s attorney’s phone number rang busy Friday.

On Thursday, authorities said Anderson kidnapped a woman, before fatally shooting Buckner, and leading police on a car chase through Maryland and Washington. The chase ended when authorities cornered Anderson in an exchange of gunfire that left Anderson and a police officer wounded.

Anderson, who remained hospitalized in unknown condition Friday, was charged with armed kidnapping and assault on a police officer in Thursday’s spree. More serious charges could follow in the jurisdiction where Buckner was killed.

Anderson turned 48 the same day as the shooting and had been scheduled for a court hearing in the assault case involving his girlfriend on Friday. However, that was canceled. The trial in the assault case is set for July.

The wounded officer is recovering. The woman who was allegedly kidnapped was found safe. It’s unclear whether she is the same woman involved in the February assault.

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said at a news conference Thursday that Buckner was stationed at a gate of the U.S. Census Bureau, when he saw two people fighting in a car. That car matched the description of a vehicle described in a report of an armed kidnapping about 6 miles away in northeast Washington.

When Buckner approached the car, the man shot him and took off, crossing the border into the nation’s capital and firing at police who gave chase, Lanier said.

He fired again at them during the chase before police blocked him and collided with his car, Lanier said. Cornered, the suspect opened fire again and police shot back. During the exchange of gunfire, both the suspect and an officer were wounded, she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.