Aaron Alexis: a history of angry acts, seeking help, feeling 'slighted' (+video)
Aaron Alexis, the suspected gunman in the Washington Navy Yard mass shooting, was arrested twice for gun violations and was being treated for mental illness. He felt that the Navy didn't respect him, friends say.
As authorities investigate how and why the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard occurred, details about Aaron Alexis, the suspected gunman, are emerging that point to a man with a history of angry acts who was seeking help through Buddhism and mental health treatment.Skip to next paragraph
Chelsea Sheasley is the Monitor's Asia Editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine.
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Here are answers to five key questions about Mr. Alexis, given what is known about him so far.
1. What is Aaron Alexis’s history with the Navy?
Alexis was a full-time reservist in the US Navy from 2007 to 2011. He received a general discharge in January 2011 after exhibiting a “pattern of misconduct,” according to officials, who declined to provide details of his misconduct.
While he served, Alexis did not have day-to-day contact with the Navy but was in the “ready reserve,” where he would be mobilized if called upon, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told CNN.
After his release from the Navy, Alexis found work as a military subcontractor for The Experts, a group affiliated with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Services that served the Navy’s Internet system, according to USA Today. Through his work, Alexis had security clearance to access the navy yard.
2. What is his prior arrest record? Is there a Sept. 11 connection?
Before his discharge from the Navy, Alexis was arrested at least twice for weapons violations. In 2004, he was arrested in Seattle for shooting the right and left rear tires of another man’s car and firing a shot into the air with a .45-caliber pistol.
According to the Seattle police report, Alexis “stated that he perceived the victim had mocked him earlier that morning after he discovered his own vehicle had been tampered with.”
That led to what Alexis "described as a ‘black-out,’ fueled by anger," the report says. “He said he didn’t remember pulling the trigger of his firearm until about one-hour later.”
Alexis also told police he was in New York City on 9/11 and was disturbed by the events. The Seattle police report notes that Alexis’s father, living in New York at the time of his son’s arrest, called the police detective to say “that his son had experienced anger management problems that the family believed associated with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). He confirmed that his son was an active participant in rescue attempts of September 11th, 2001.”
Alexis, born in the borough of Queens in 1979, would have been 22 on 9/11. Kristi Suthamtewakul, a friend from Fort Worth, Texas, told the Los Angeles Times that Alexis had “expressed anger about Sept. 11 to her, but that he was angry at terrorists."
In the end, Seattle authorities didn't pursue the matter, because the police report never reached the city attorney. "We are not able to review for possible charges because the police report didn't make it to our office," spokeswoman Kimberly Mills told the Monitor.
Typically, this is a case that would have prompted charges. "It's very likely it would have been charged," she says. "I don't know where the disconnect was," she says, adding that the police report has a notation on it that it was sent to the Seattle municipal court. Police can file traffic tickets directly with the court, but they can't file misdemeanor charges, like this one, to the court directly, she said. They are supposed to send them to the city attorney first.