Mother of Washington Navy Yard shooting victim says woman loved job

By MICHAEL FUTCH | The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer | Published: September 18, 2013

A former Fayetteville woman who once worked for the city's Police Department has been identified among the 13 people who died in Monday's shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard.

Mary Francis DeLorenzo Knight, 51, of Reston, Va., had just been promoted at her job in information technology at the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters, according to her mother.

"We're in shock here," said Knight's mother, Lilly DeLorenzo, of Fayetteville. "In shock. We did not expect this."

DeLorenzo Knight was born in Germany but grew up in Fayetteville and graduated from Seventy-First High School in 1980. Her father retired from Special Forces.

She last lived in Fayetteville eight years ago, according to her brother-in-law, Theodore Hisey. But she visited Fayetteville just weeks ago for the marriage of one of her two daughters, Nicole.

Nicole Shuck, 25, said she last saw her mother at her August wedding.

"It's just been overwhelming," she said. "We're still in shock and coping with it the best way we can."

Shuck said her mother loved her job at the Navy Yard. But she said, becoming emotional over the phone, "Her No. 1 passion in life was my sister and I. She loved us more than life itself."

DeLorenzo Knight's other daughter, Danielle, 20, lived with her mother in Reston.

Lilly DeLorenzo described her daughter as a very intelligent, hard-working woman.

"She was a good mother and good daughter," DiLorenzo said. "She loved her business, her job."

DeLorenzo Knight called her mother every other day.

"Sometimes at 6 or 7 o'clock in the morning," DeLorenzo said. "Today, I'm waiting for her call."

A family friend said DeLorenzo Knight had been in lockdown at the heavily secured Navy Yard, where the shootings took place. About 9 p.m. Monday, an FBI agent confirmed to the family that she was a victim, Hisey said.

DeLorenzo Knight worked as an information assurance manager at the Navy Yard. She had been working at the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters since August 2009.

"Oh, God, she loved it," her mother said. "She loved it. She commuted every morning."

She was in her first semester as an adjunct professor at Northern Virginia Community College, where she taught information technology courses on the Annandale and Loudoun campuses, according to a school public information officer.

Hisey said his sister-in-law had worked for the government for much of her professional career, focusing on information technology.

That included a civilian job at the Fayetteville Police Department, where she was a support systems specialist.

Fayetteville police Lt. Todd Joyce said DeLorenzo Knight worked in the central records unit from May 1988 to November 1994.

A former captain, Bob Pait, 69, was in charge of the administrative bureau at the time. He believes DeLorenzo Knight was the department's first IT worker, adding that she was instrumental in setting up the computer system.

"She was a very hard worker and intelligent," he said. "She knew what she was doing. She always stayed up with the change in technology. She was always good with other employees. Pleasant. But when she knew she was right, she knew she was right. She stood her ground."

Pait learned Tuesday that DeLorenzo Knight was among the victims when he saw a photograph of her on television.

"It had been so long since I've seen her, but it really looked like her," he said. "It was a disheartening feeling."

When DeLorenzo Knight left the Police Department, she took a federal job on Fort Bragg, Pait said.

From 1994 through 2005, she served as chief of the customer support branch at Womack Army Medical Center, according to DeLorenzo Knight's online LinkedIn profile.

Nine years ago, she received her master of arts degree in computer resources and information management from Webster University after earning a bachelor of applied science degree from Campbell University and an associate of applied science degree from Fayetteville Technical Community College, the profile said.

The FBI identified Aaron Alexis, 34, of Texas, as the shooter. He was a defense contract employee and former Navy reservist who reportedly used a valid pass to get onto the installation before opening fire inside a building.

Alexis died in a gun battle with police.

The case is being handled by the FBI with assistance of the Metropolitan Police Department's Homicide Branch and the Crime Scene Investigation Division.

The shooting was the deadliest attack at a domestic military installation since November 2009, when an Army psychiatrist killed 13 people and wounded 30 others at Fort Hood, Texas.


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