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Learning More About The Navy Yard Shooter

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email
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Associated Press Release
By KEVIN FREKING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Veterans Affairs Department has told lawmakers that the Washington Navy Yard gunman visited two VA hospitals in late August complaining of insomnia, but that he denied struggling with anxiety or depression or had thoughts of harming himself or others.

The information about the gunman, Aaron Alexis, was released to lawmakers Wednesday. The Associated Press obtained a summary.

The VA said Alexis visited the VA facility in Providence, R.I., on Aug. 23, and was given medication to help him sleep and advised to follow up. Five days later he sought a refill at the VA Medical Center in Washington. The VA described him as "alert and oriented" during both visits.

Alexis, a former member of the Navy Reserve, had a 30 percent disability rating based on orthopedic problems and tinnitus.


Associated Press Release

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The gunman who killed 12 people before being shot dead by police at the Washington Navy Yard had a history of violent outbursts, was at least twice accused of firing guns in anger, and was in the early stages of treatment for serious mental problems, according to court records and U.S. law enforcement officials.

But Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old military contractor and former Navy reservist, apparently managed to exploit seams in the nation's patchwork of complicated gun laws designed to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous people. He was able to buy a shotgun in Virginia with out-of-state identification, even though that would have prevented him from buying a handgun.

Meanwhile, a picture emerged Tuesday of Alexis as an agitated and erratic man whose behavior and mental state repeatedly came to authorities' attention but apparently never affected his security clearance to do work for the Department of Defense.

Alexis, an information technology employee at a defense-related computer company, used a valid pass Monday to get into the Navy Yard. Officials said besides being armed with the shotgun, he also took a handgun from a law officer. A day after the assault, the motive was still a mystery.

It is illegal for gun dealers to sell handguns to such out-of-state buyers, but the Firearms Owners' Protection Act, passed by Congress in 1986, opened up interstate sales for shotguns and rifles. Virginia gun laws require only that an out-of-state buyer show valid identification, pass a background check and otherwise abide by state laws in order to buy a shotgun in the state. Alexis was never prosecuted for two misdemeanor charges involving guns.

"What the 1986 Firearms Owners' Protection Act did was it made it more convenient for gun buyers," said Kristen Rand, the legislative director at the Violence Policy Center.

Alexis bought the shotgun at Sharpshooters Small Arms Range in Lorton, Virginia, on Saturday, according to a statement from the attorney for the gun range. Michael Slocum said in an email that Alexis rented a rifle, bought bullets and used the range before buying the shotgun and 24 shells. Slocum said Alexis passed a federal background check.

Federal gun laws bar the mentally ill from legally buying guns from licensed dealers. But the law requires that someone be involuntarily committed to a mental health facility or declared mentally ill by a judge, and that information must be reported to the FBI in order to appear on background checks. In the wake of the mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007, state authorities changed state laws to make it tougher for the mentally ill to buy guns there.

But Alexis was never declared mentally ill by a judge or committed to a hospital. He had been undergoing mental health treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs since August but was not stripped of his security clearance, according to two law enforcement officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the criminal investigation was still going on.

He suffered serious mental problems, including paranoia and a sleep disorder and had been hearing voices in his head, officials said. But Alexis was not stripped of his security clearance, according to the law enforcement officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the criminal investigation was still going on.

He had been suffering from a host of serious mental problems, including paranoia and a sleep disorder, and had been hearing voices in his head, the officials said.

After the December massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, U.S. lawmakers pushed to overhaul gun laws. Among the proposals was a ban on military-style rifles, including the popular AR-15, and high-capacity ammunition magazines. There was also a plan to expand background checks to make sure anyone who wanted a gun got the approval of the federal government.

No legislation has moved forward in Congress, despite urgent pleas from the president, some lawmakers and victims' families.

President Barack Obama has made a few narrow administrative changes, but those are not likely to impact the kinds of guns most often found at crime scenes.

A month before Monday's rampage, Alexis complained to police in Rhode Island that people were talking to him through the walls and ceilings of his hotel rooms and sending microwave vibrations into his body to deprive him of sleep.

Alexis told police he got into an argument with someone as he was getting on a flight from Virginia to Rhode Island, where he was working as a naval contractor, and he said the person sent three people to follow and harass him.

He said he heard voices talking to him through a wall while at one hotel, so he changed hotels twice, but the voices followed him, according to the Newport, Rhode Island police report. He said he feared they might harm him. He also "stated that the individuals are using `some sort of microwave machine' to send vibrations through the ceiling, penetrating his body so he cannot fall asleep."

Later that day, Newport police alerted the Rhode Island naval station and sent a copy of the police report, Lt. William Fitzgerald said Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the station had no comment Tuesday.

Alexis came to the Washington area about two weeks after the Rhode Island incident and had been staying at hotels.

The assault is raising more questions about the adequacy of the background checks done on contract employees who hold security clearances -- an issue that came up recently with National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus ordered two security reviews Tuesday of how well the Navy protects its bases and how accurately it screens its workers.

Similarly, President Barack Obama has ordered the White House budget office to examine security standards for government contractors and employees across federal agencies.

Mert Miller, associate director of Federal Investigative Services for the Office of Personnel Management, said in a statement that federal budget, personnel and intelligence officials were working to "review the oversight, nature and implementation of security and suitability standards for federal employees and contractors."

In general, he said, background security clearance investigations cover information about an individual's criminal history.

Alexis had run-ins with the law in 2004 and 2010 in Texas and Seattle after he was accused of firing a gun in anger.

His bouts of insubordination, disorderly conduct and being absent from work without authorization prompted the Navy to grant him an early -- but honorable -- discharge in 2011 after nearly four years as a full-time reservist, authorities said.

"He wasn't a stellar sailor," Navy spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told CNN. "We know that."

But he said the offenses weren't "grievously serious" and the punishments for them are fairly mild. Kirby said there was a proposal to "administratively separate him from the Navy," with less than an honorable discharge, but Alexis volunteered to leave early and received an honorable discharge.

Kirby said that none of Alexis' offenses while he was in uniform "give you an indication that he was capable of this sort of brutal, vicious violence."

As for Alexis' security clearance, Kirby said he received one around the time he enlisted. "It was good for 10 years. And it was at the secret level. So the security clearance was valid when he left the Navy in 2011. And because he wasn't out of work very long before he took this next job, the security clearance went with him."

Alexis joined the Florida-based IT consulting firm The Experts in September 2012, leaving a few months later to return to school. He came back in June to do part-time work at the Washington Navy Yard as a subcontractor, helping the military update computer systems.

The Experts' CEO, Thomas Hoshko, told The Associated Press that Alexis had "no personal issues," and he confirmed that Alexis had been granted a "secret" clearance by the Defense Security Service five years ago.

Alexis' background check "came back clear," Hoshko said.

Among those killed in the Navy Yard shootings was marine engineer and naval architect Vishnu Pandit, 61, an immigrant from India.


Associated Press Release
By ERIC TUCKER

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A police report says the Washington Navy Yard gunman heard voices during a stay in Rhode Island the month before the shooting rampage.

The defense contractor told police in early August that the voices were harassing and following him. In the following weeks, Aaron Alexis moved on to the Washington area for work, and law enforcement officials say he was being treated for serious mental problems. But his security clearance was not stripped, and the 34-year-old Alexis entered the sprawling installation Monday with a valid pass.

A picture of his path and what happened in the 30-plus-minute rampage emerged the day after the shooting that killed 12 victims and injured eight. But his motive remained a mystery, and other questions were left unanswered.


Associated Press Release
By: LOLITA C. BALDOR

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. officials say the former Navy reservist who gunned down 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard had a string of misconduct problems during his nearly three years in the military, but he received an honorable discharge.

The officials say that Aaron Alexis, 34, had bouts of insubordination, disorderly conduct and was sometimes absent from work without authorization. The offenses occurred mainly when he was serving in Fort Worth, Texas, from 2008-2001, and were enough to prompt Navy officials to grant him an early discharge through a special program for enlisted personnel.

Officials said the bad conduct was enough to make it clear Alexis would not be a good sailor, but not enough to warrant a general or less-than-honorable discharge.


Associated Press Release

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) -- Court records show that a former Navy reservist who police say gunned down 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard was thrown out of a metro Atlanta nightclub five years ago and cited for disorderly conduct.

The disorderly conduct citation in DeKalb County states that Aaron Alexis damaged furnishings inside the club on Chamblee-Tucker Road near Interstate 285 on Aug. 10, 2008.

The records obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press say he began using profanity repeatedly outside the nightspot. The citation says he wouldn't stop swearing, despite being told several times.

Alexis, a 34-year-old employee with a defense contractor, used a valid pass to get into the highly secured installation Monday morning and started firing inside a building, the FBI said. He was killed in a gun battle with police.


Associated Press Release
By: MATT APUZZO and ADAM GOLDMAN

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. law enforcement officials are telling The Associated Press that the Navy contractor identified as the gunman in Monday's mass shooting at a military complex in Washington had been suffering a number of serious mental issues, including paranoia and a sleep disorder. He had been hearing voices in his head, the officials say.

Aaron Alexis, 34, had been treated since August by the Veterans Administration for his mental problems, the officials say. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the criminal investigation in the case was continuing.

The Navy had not declared him mentally unfit, which would have rescinded a security clearance that Alexis had from his earlier time in the Navy Reserves.

Family members told investigators that Alexis was being treated for his mental issues.


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