Gunman in Navy Yard shootings a reservist; had anger issues

Aaron Alexis seems a study in contradictions: a former Navy reservist, a Defense Department contractor, a convert to Buddhism who was taking an online course in aeronautics. But he also had flashes of temper that led to run-ins with police over shootings in Fort Worth, Texas, and Seattle.

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A profile began to emerge Monday of the man authorities identified as the gunman in a mass shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., that left 13 people dead, including the 34-year-old man. While some neighbors and acquaintances described him as "nice," his father once told detectives in Seattle that his son had anger management problems related to post-traumatic stress brought on by the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He also complained about the Navy and being a victim of discrimination.

At the time of the shootings, he worked for The Experts, a subcontractor on an HP Enterprise Services contract to refresh equipment used on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet network.

His life over the past decade has been checkered.

Alexis lived in Seattle in 2004 and 2005, according to public documents. In 2004, Seattle police said Alexis was arrested for shooting out the tires of another man's vehicle in what he later described to detectives as an anger-fueled "blackout." According to an account on the department's website, two construction workers had parked their Honda Accord in the driveway of their worksite, next to a home where Alexis was staying. The workers reported seeing a man, later identified by police as Alexis, walk out of the home next to their worksite, pull a gun from his waistband and fire three shots into the rear tires of their Honda before he walked slowly back to his home.

When detectives interviewed workers at the construction site, they told police Alexis had stared at construction workers at the job site daily for several weeks prior to the shooting. The owner of the construction business told police he believed Alexis was angry over the parking situation around the site.

Police eventually arrested Alexis, searched his home, found a gun and ammunition in his room, and booked him into the King County Jail for malicious mischief.

According to the police account, Alexis told detectives he perceived he had been "mocked" by construction workers the morning of the incident. Alexis also claimed he had an anger-fueled "blackout," and could not remember firing his gun at the Honda until an hour after the incident.

Alexis also told police he was present during "the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001" and described "how those events had disturbed him."

Then, on May 5, 2007, he enlisted in the Navy reserves, serving through 2011, according to Navy spokeswoman Lt. Megan Shutka.

Shutka said he received the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal during his stint in the reserves. Both are medals issued to large numbers of service members who served abroad and in the United States since the 9/11 attacks. Alexis' last assignment was as aviation electricians mate 3rd class at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Shutka said.

It was while he was still in the reserves that a neighbor in Fort Worth reported she had been nearly struck by a bullet shot from his downstairs apartment.

In September 2010, Fort Worth police questioned Alexis about the neighbor's report; he admitted to firing his weapon but said he was cleaning his gun when it accidentally discharged. He said he didn't call the police because he didn't think the bullet went through to the other apartment. The neighbor told police she was scared of Alexis and felt he fired intentionally because he had complained about her making too much noise.

Alexis was arrested on suspicion of discharging a firearm within city limits but Tarrant County district attorney's spokeswoman Melody McDonald Lanier said the case was not pursued after it was determined the gun discharged accidentally.

After leaving the reserves, Alexis worked as a waiter and delivery driver at the Happy Bowl Thai restaurant in White Settlement, a suburb of Fort Worth, according to Afton Bradley, a former co-worker. The two overlapped for about eight months before Alexis left in May, Bradley said.

Having traveled to Thailand, Alexis learned some Thai and could speak to Thai customers in their native language.

"He was a very nice person," Bradley said in a phone interview. "It kind of blows my mind away. I wouldn't think anything bad at all."

A former acquaintance, Oui Suthametewakul, said Alexis lived with him and his wife from August 2012 to May 2013 in Fort Worth, but that they had to part ways because he wasn't paying his bills. Alexis was a "nice guy," Suthametewakul said, though he sometimes carried a gun and would frequently complain about being the victim of discrimination.

Suthametewakul said Alexis had converted to Buddhism and prayed at a local Buddhist temple.

"We are all shocked. We are nonviolent. Aaron was a very good practitioner of Buddhism. He could chant better than even some of the Thai congregants," said Ty Thairintr, a congregant at Wat Budsaya, a Buddhist temple in Fort Worth.

Thairintr said Alexis told him he was upset with the Navy because "he thought he never got a promotion because of the color of his skin. He hated his commander."

As Thairintr and others at the temple understood, Alexis took a job as a contractor and he indicated to them he was going to go to Virginia. He last saw him five weeks ago.

"He was a very devoted Buddhist. There was no tell-tale sign of this behavior," Thairintr said.

In the early 2000s, before he moved to Seattle, Alexis lived with his mother in an apartment in Queens, N.Y., said Gene Demby, of Philadelphia, who said he dated one of Alexis' younger sisters at the time. He said Alexis and his two younger sisters had a difficult relationship with their father, who divorced their mother in the mid-1990s.

"I wouldn't call him nice, but he seemed harmless, if really awkward," said Demby, the lead writer for NPR's Code Switch blog about race and culture. "He was insecure. He was like a barbershop conspiracy theorist, the kind of guy who believes he's smarter than everyone else. He also was kind of like perpetually aggrieved, but not megalomaniacal or delusional."

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which offers online courses in aviation and aerospace, confirmed that Alexis was enrolled as an online student via its Fort Worth campus, started classes in July 2012 and was pursuing a bachelor's of science in aeronautics.

"We are cooperating fully with investigating officials," the university said.

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US Shooting Military Building
Associated Press

Police work the scene on M Street, SE, in Washington near the Washington Navy Yard on Monday. The U.S. Navy says one person is injured after a shooting at a Navy building in Washington. Police and emergency crews gathered Monday morning outside the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters building, where the shooting was reported.

Associated Press

People hold their hands to their heads as they are escorted out of the building where a gunman was reported at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington on Monday.

Associated Press

Security personnel respond near the Washington Navy Yard where a gunman was reported in Washington on Monday.

Associated Press

A U.S. Park Police helicopter removes a man in a basket from the Washington Navy Yard on Monday.

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The blame

It is still early in the investigation so there is much misinformation going around but if what I read is correct the shooter had a long history of "anger management issues" and PTSD issues and "authority issues" and yet he was able to buy guns legally thanks to the protection of his rights by the NRA and he was given special clearance to enter a building full of people who were carrying weapons thanks to a contractor who evidently didn't do much of a background check and he emptied his weapons and then used the weapons he got off the people he killed to kill more people. However you spell this the NRA, the contractor and the Navy mental health folks should own up to their share of the blame for the many families grieving today. There is no reason this country should be assaulted over and over in the same way by something that should have been preventable.


Not worth repeating

According to present news reports the first person killed was an armed security guard. The police were there in two minutes and the first person killed then was an armed police officer. There was also a report of the security forces looking for two other people with guns they thought were accomplices. It is not clear whether these were armed civilians trying to help or a case of mistaken identity. Either way this kind of confusion doesn't seem helpful to me. It also sounds to me as if you are more than happy to blame Obama for pretty much everything whether he was involved or not. It is also worth repeating that people with anger issues should not be allowed to have weapons.

RONALD RIML's picture

What do you expect

out of a Country that's barely two hundred years young and still in love with it's 'Gun Totin' past......

Some folks can no more get past the second step of "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs" than they can the 2nd Amendment

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Hey Ronald any ideas why they want me?????????

Yesterday afternoon , after being savaged by a surgeons scalpel, then mercifully finished of with a few staples, they sent me home to relax and heal.(again). Upon checking my phone messages I had one "NRA", along with a return number. I've had a gun thirty four years or so, I've told very few people I even had it, and I don't hunt. I've never once even contacted NRA, why would they be calling me, while I'm in the middle of surgery? They looking for new members? God I hope I don't start getting Mail from them, I'm already up to my ears with the AARP garbage. Just thought you'd get a chuckle from that................................
P.S. you don't think they found me from these posting do you?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I bet more people died in car

I bet more people died in car accidents during the same time period the shootings took place.

RONALD RIML's picture

And as you've investigated neither 'accidents' nor shootings

I recommend you stay with your area of expertise.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I think your memory is

I think your memory is starting to age. I have posted statistics related to gun deaths and car accidents many times. Have I not?

You can find the data on the CDC or FBI web-site.

Stay strong and exercise your memory.

RONALD RIML's picture

So post them again

As I do.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I've posted them so often the

I've posted them so often the data is considered common knowledge.

RONALD RIML's picture

Nice try

No cigar.

RONALD RIML's picture

Donna - Your Profile shows you've done Nothing.

Just as your reply indicates.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

One observation that I have

One observation that I have made over the years is that those individuals hung up on making sure everyone knows of their achievements are really under achievers - symbolism over substance. Kind of like Obama on TV repeatedly using the personal pronoun, “I”. Listeners all know he is full of shit, but looks smug painting himself in accolades.

The real achievers that I’ve met just get the job done and silently move on to the next job.

It appears that you and Obama have more things in common than just the disease called liberalism.

RONALD RIML's picture

Diseased Minds

insist on creating imaginary diseases.

You've failed to reference your allegation in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition

MARK GRAVEL's picture

How come you automatically

How come you automatically assumed I was talking about a mental disorder when no such reference is in my text?

Paranoid? Hmm.... let me note that behavior.

RONALD RIML's picture

"Disease called Liberalism"

You've often referred to a so-called Dr. Savage and his tired canard


The good guys

What a tragedy. I will say I hope this puts an end to the notion forever that good guys with guns are the solution to the problem of bad guys with guns. I don't know of any place in this country where there are more good guys with guns and this sure doesn't seem like a happy ending.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

BIG Kudos to Donna. Only hand

BIG Kudos to Donna.

Only hand over your weapons 55 grams at a time :-)

Noel Foss's picture


"...Authorities said that the gunman, a civilian contractor identified as Aaron Alexis, 34, was killed after exchanging fire with officers who stormed the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command in a massive law enforcement response.
“There is no question he would have kept shooting,” Washington Police Chief Cathy Lanier said..."

Good guys with guns ended the confrontation with the bad guy with a gun, preventing any further deaths. I'd be unsurprised if they increased security at that facility in the future (more good guys, who will likely have guns) to prevent it happening again.


GARY SAVARD's picture

Did the "bad guys with guns"

Did the "bad guys with guns" stop shooting because they ran out of bullets , or because they were interrupted by "good guys with guns"?

RONALD RIML's picture

The 'Bad Guys' shouldn't have had access to guns

in the first place. We reap what we sow.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

And drunks should have access

And drunks should have access to cars - how is that work'n?

Noel Foss's picture

Last I knew

Nobody was allowed to have those guns (AR-style rifles) in DC; good or bad, unless they're active enlisted or Law Enforcement. As for shotguns and pistols, they all have to be registered.

So what does that say about these gunmen, if they turn out to be from DC?

I agree that we reap what we sow, but in this case (as usual) it's in regards to health care, not to firearms restrictions.

Jason Theriault's picture


The real solution is not letting the bad guys get guns.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

That is certainly a very

That is certainly a very simplistic and Juvenal solution, especially give this individual passed multiple levels of security screenings and mental evaluations to obtain a security clearance.

Steve  Dosh's picture

JT , Something like that ;)

JT , Something like that ;) We support the right to arm bears ?
"The FBI estimates that there are over 200 million privately-owned firearms in the US. If you add those owned by the military, law enforcement agencies and museums, there is probably about 1 gun per person in the country.
If you want to get a rough idea of how many guns there are out there just look at how many people you see out there then multiply by a factor of estimated ownership. The last best guess was about 350,000,000 Total. That would be 1 weapon for every man woman and child. The average gun enthusiast owns several firearms which includes pistols, shotguns, and rifles of all makes and models. It is often estimated that about 1 in 4 people own any firearms and on average firearms owners own 4 guns each.
No one knows the exact number of firearms owned by private citizens in the US, In 1995, the BATFE estimated that there were about 223 million firearms owned by individuals in the US. The number has increased since then.
There is no definitive answer, because most states don't require registration.
The Small Arms Survey in 2007 by the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva estimated 270 million firearms in the US.
There have been 156,577,620 gun registry applications submitted to the National Firearms Administration (NFA) from Nov 1998 to Nov 2012. " the British are not coming • /s Dr. Dosh , HI . .the state with the l o w e s t gun ownership rate . . •

MARK GRAVEL's picture

So by your own estimates only

So by your own estimates only 0.0097% ( (34,000/350,000,000)*100 ) of the 350,000,000 weapons are used to kill. That is actually a very, very, very, very, very, ...., very small percentage. So what this data shows is that guns are relatively safe.

Noel Foss's picture

Some more statistics for you:

From 1981-2010 the number of privately owned firearms in the US rose by an estimated 150 million guns. By your "last best guess" that's nearly doubled, during a 30 year stretch. Of course, your "last best guess" also includes non-privately owned firearms (includes military, police, FBI, etc.); the number of privately-held guns is estimated to be closer to 200 million. So that means that during that 30 year stretch, the number of privately-held firearms actually increased by 300%. During that same period, the murder rate in the US declined by nearly 50%.

Wisconsin has six times the gun ownership rate of Hawaii (the state with the lowest gun ownership rate, as you state above), yet the gun murder rate is roughly the same. So are the few Hawaiians who own guns exponentially more violent than the rest of the country?

Or, is it possible that something else is the issue?

RONALD RIML's picture

Something else is the issue.....

In 1960 the 'Aggravated Assault' rate was 86.1; Homicide rate was 5.1.

Fast-forward fifty years to 2010. The 'Aggravated Assault rate has almost tripled to 252; yet the Homicide rate has just about held even at 4.8.

So what's going on here?? Even though folks are assaulting one another with deadly weapons at a rate three times greater than before, homicides are still only occurring at the same rate.

What happened was Vietnam, and remarkable advances in Trauma Care which are now available at the local level.

So victims get the care they need, rather than 'Tagged and Bagged'

Noel Foss's picture


Don't just disagree, back it up with something! Why are you disagreeing that trauma care has improved over the last 50 years, when it clearly has?!

However, the Aggravated Assault rate in the US has operated independently of the number of guns in the country.
The rate of AA peaked in the mid 90's and has been on the decline every year since 1997 (with the exception of a spike in 2005). The AA rate in '97, for example, was 382, and the murder rate that year was 6.8.
Gun ownership, on the other hand, has continued to increase substantially since the mid-90's, which is inverse to the number of AA's.

RONALD RIML's picture

Donna - Still no profile, still no credibility.

Go peddle your real estate.

RONALD RIML's picture

Noel - Relax

The 'Disagrees' are often related to the 'Turd Ferguson' factor.

Some Shidt-Heads simply don't like what the hell I have to say; Truth be Damned!

MARK GRAVEL's picture

P.S. Yes, that was me giving

P.S. Yes, that was me giving you a little encouragement :-)

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Perhaps one should try saying

Perhaps one should try saying something truthful once in a while.

No seriously, people got used to seeing you having a public meltdown over the disagree button, like we are witnessing now.

The more you display your emotions publicly, the more people will encourage you to do so (i.e. click the disagree button). You have no one to blame but yourself and your public tantrums for your circumstance.


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