By Holly Yan and Alan Duke
(CNN) — They were civilians and contractors, just starting their day at a massive military compound that’s normally a bastion of safety.
But for reasons that may never be known, a former Navy reservist cut their lives short when he went on a shooting rampage at Washington’s Navy Yard on Monday. Twelve families were left anguished.
The victims are:
• Michael Arnold, 59, of Lorton, Virginia, had a cold Monday, and his wife called to check on him when she heard an alarm in the background. He said he’d call her back, Arnold’s mother told CNN affiliate WDIV. He never had the chance.
Arnold — a Naval Academy grad, veteran of 29 years and avid pilot — was building his own plane that he hoped to fly to Michigan, where his mother, Patricia, lives, before he turned 60, the station said.
He had two master’s degrees from the University of Washington and worked designing ships at the Navy Yard, WDIV reported.
• Kathy Gaarde, 62, of Woodbridge, Virginia, took care of her 94-year-old mother until she died last year, said Douglass Gaarde, her husband of 38 years. She also loved animals and counted bluebirds for a local refuge.
A Chicago native, Gaarde graduated from Florida State University before moving to Washington 38 years ago, where she has been a longtime Washington Capitals season ticket holder.
Douglass Gaarde said he traded e-mails with his wife shortly before the shooting.
“That was the last I heard from her,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
“You know, at first you don’t think it could happen to her. I mean, there’s 3,000 people in there,” he said. “But as it gets later in the day … you know if she was able to get to the phone she would have called home.”
Their daughter, Jessica Gaarde, said her mother was the type of person would do anything for anyone she loved.
“I want them (people) to know she lived. She is not a number, or some statistic,” she told Cooper.
• John Roger Johnson, 73, of Derwood, Maryland, was an avid fisherman and Redskins fan, CNN affiliate WJLA reported.
His wife described him as an awesome human being.
“He always said, ‘Goodbye beautiful, I love you so much,'” said Judy Johnson, according to WJLA. “I was very lucky, and very blessed to find the human being that I found in him.”
Her husband “always had a smile on his face,” one of his neighbors told The Washington Post, adding that Johnson had lived in the neighborhood for more than 30 years.
A civilian who worked for the Navy, Johnson was described as a “smart man.”
“He loved children. He loved our grandchildren. No one could ask for a better neighbor,” the neighbor told the newspaper.
• Arthur Daniels, 51, of southeast Washington, D.C., was married to Priscilla Daniels for 30 years. They had five children and nine grandchildren, according to WTTG-TV.
He worked at the Navy Yard as a handyman for 17 years and was on the fourth floor of Building 197 when the shooting began, his wife said.
Daniels loved his family, cooking and dancing to James Brown, WJLA said.
• Richard Michael Ridgell, 52, of Westminster, Maryland, had three daughters who prompted him to join Facebook so he could keep up with them, The Washington Post reported. A friend once teased him for having only three connections on the social media site.
He attended high school in Maryland and worked for the Maryland State Police until 2000, capping a 17-year career with the force, the newspaper reported.
Ridgell loved his work, his country and the Baltimore Ravens, CNN affiliate WJZ reported.
“I don’t want people to remember him as a victim cause he never was in his life, and he never will be. He was strong. I want him to be known as a dad above a victim of a shooting, cause he was a great dad for all of us,” his daughter, Megan Ridgell, told the network.
• Martin Bodrog, 54, of Annandale, Virginia, grew up in New Jersey, Indiana and Massachusetts and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1981 before serving 22 years in the military, where he received numerous awards and medals, according to a family statement. After his career, he oversaw the design and procurement of ships for the Navy.
Bodrog and his family (wife of 23 years, Melanie, and daughters Isabel, 23, Sophie, 17, and Rita, 16) taught Sunday school for preschoolers, and he was active in Young Life, a Christian outreach group for high school students.
It was common to see him, in all weather, wearing shorts and a Boston Bruins jersey, walking his dog and helping shovel snow out of his elderly neighbors’ driveways.
“He was such a great man,” Selma Nunes, a friend of Bodrog’s, told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “Everything he did was purposeful, meaningful, and was intentional, and because of that he did everything with excellence.”
“So many people have regrets, and I can say with confidence that he lived the American dream,” she said.
• Vishnu Shalchendia Pandit, 61, of North Potomac, Maryland, had a stream of cars arriving at his home late Monday, neighbor Zhaohua Zhou told The Washington Post.
Mike Honig, another neighbor, described Pandit as “a very nice man with an Irish setter.” He said Pandit and his wife had lived in the neighborhood for 20 years.
• Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46, of Waldorf, Maryland, married his high school sweetheart. He and Evelyn were married 19 years before an amicable divorce this year. He still called her every morning before breakfast at the Navy Yard, where he worked as a civilian utilities foreman, Evelyn Proctor told the New York Daily News.
The Washington Redskins fan had two children with Evelyn: Kendull, 15, and Kenneth, 17. Kenneth is in Army basic training in Oklahoma, Evelyn Proctor told the newspaper, describing her ex-husband as “a very loving, caring, gentle person.”
• Mary Francis Knight, 51, of Reston, Virginia, was an information technology contractor who had been in Washington for five years, her family told CNN affiliate WITN.
The daughter of a Green Beret and a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina, Knight had two daughters herself — Nicole, who got married earlier this year, and Danielle, who lived with Knight.
Knight was also an adjunct professor at Northern Virginia Community College.
“She was a great patriot who loved her country and loved serving the USA,” family spokesman Theodore Hisey told WITN.
• Gerald L. Read, 58, of Alexandria, Virginia, was an information assurance specialist in the Navy Sea Systems Command who spent much of his career in military law enforcement and as a systems analyst, according to The Washington Post. The former Army lieutenant with two master’s degrees worked as a civilian at the Navy Yard, managing security risks related to data.
His wife of 35 years, Cathy, described him as a “totally reliable, really, really solid” husband who loved reading — especially books about the Civil War — and was close to his daughter and three grandchildren, according to the newspaper.
Read and his wife had been rescuing Labrador retrievers for a decade. The couple had three Labs, an Irish setter and two cats, but Read was most fond of his black Lab, Roderick, the paper reported.
• Sylvia Frasier, 53, of Waldorf, Maryland, was the second-youngest of seven children, The Washington Post reported. Her family gathered Monday inside a three-bedroom home waiting for news.
“No matter how we feel, no matter what information we get from the FBI, we have got to forgive,” Wendy Edmonds, Frasier’s sister, told the newspaper. “We have to forgive. We can’t become bitter.”
• Frank Kohler, 50, of Tall Timbers, Maryland, was married with two daughters, according to The Washington Post, which cited a neighbor.
At least eight other people were injured, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray told reporters Monday night.
Three were shot, including a woman who was struck in the head but survived. The bullet did not penetrate her skull, and she was released from the hospital by Tuesday night.
The others suffered contusions and chest pain.
Among the injured is Washington Metropolitan Police Officer Scott Williams, who underwent surgery Monday afternoon for gunshot wounds to the lower legs.
“He was most concerned about being able to talk to his mother and wanted to make sure he was able to speak to her before he went into surgery,” said Dr. Janis Orlowski, chief medical officer at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
Wounded survivors are eligible for treatment at a U.S. military’ hospital, just as if they were soldiers wounded in war.
U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said that Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, is open to them.
CNN’s Chris Lawrence, Aaron Cooper, Dana Ford and Jonathan Auerbach contributed to this report.