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Shooter at U.S. Army base in Virginia kills herself, sparks lockdown

By Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier armed with a pistol fatally wounded herself after barricading herself in a building at Fort Lee, Virginia, sparking a lockdown of the Army base, officials said.

The soldier entered the four-story Combined Arms Support Command Headquarters at about 8:45 a.m. EDT (0845 ET) and locked herself in an office. She shot herself in the head as police negotiated with her.

The woman was taken to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond, where she was pronounced dead, the base said in a statement.

The soldier's identity has not been released pending notification of relatives. The motive for the shooting was unknown.

WRIC TV, an ABC affiliate in Richmond, quoted base officials as saying the soldier was a sergeant first class and a 14-year veteran. She had been at Fort Lee for three years.

"We are sad for our soldier in arms that she faced those kinds of challenges that she thought she had to resort to those kind of actions," Major General Stephen Lyons, the base commander, said at a televised news conference.

Lyons said the soldier went on a "rampage" during talks with police, throwing things around the office and then opening fire, WRIC said. The pistol was a small-caliber handgun and not a service weapon, officials said. The shooting is under investigation.

The base was locked down for less than an hour but the gate near the building where the incident occurred and nearby streets were kept closed, base spokesman Stephen Baker said.

Fort Lee is about 100 miles (160 km) south of Washington and according to the base's website is the Army's third-largest training site.

The Fort Lee shooting comes about four months after a soldier with mental health problems killed three people and wounded 16 at Fort Hood in Texas. The Fort Hood incident was the third shooting rampage at a U.S. military base in six months.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Jim Loney, Mohammad Zargham and Bill Trott)

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