Navy Yard shooting close to home for Valley family

September 16, 2013 4:17:58 PM PDT
The Washington Navy Yard attack came way too close to home for one Valley family. A former Clovis resident and Air Force veteran was just yards away from the gunfire.

Mary Jo and Victor Barbato got a text message from their daughter Emily first thing Monday morning. And although it said she was okay, it also let them know just how close she was to serious danger.

"There's where the shooter was and there's where Emily is," said Mary Jo Barbato as she pointed to a map of the Navy Yard.

One building is all that separated Barbato from much worse news. A block away from the Navy Yard shooting, her daughter Emily rushed into her own building, locked down with her co-workers, and let her parents know she was okay.

"First text I got from Emily was 'I'm fine. Still haven't caught the shooter. Was walking to work when it happened about 100 yards from me, scary,'" said Mary Jo Barbato. "And that bothered me when she said scary because then I knew she was scared."

Mary Jo monitored her phone all day after that early morning text and Emily kept her updated. The 24-year-old is a civilian contractor now, but her dad thinks her military training served her well in the hours after she heard the gunfire.

A veteran himself, Victor Barbato says Emily knew exactly how to react after the initial shock. Victor also approached the situation with a military mindset, at least at the outset.

"Talked to her on the phone, I'm listening, she's okay," Barbato said. "And then somebody finally asks me a question outside of me, 'Is your daughter ok?' and that's where the father steps in, you know. Yeah."

Investigators questioned Emily late in the day before releasing her to go home. Her mom says the reality of what happened may just now be sinking in.

"I think her adrenaline's going to finally fade off and then she's going to need a good cry and a good talk with mom," said Mary Jo Barbato. "She'll still be fine but that's when it's finally going to hit her too as to how much danger she was really in."

Emily had to take public transportation home because nobody was allowed to take their cars. Investigators are checking vehicles because they know someone with official access to the site could have driven a car into the parking lot without having the trunk inspected.


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