Another incident involving gunfire in a public place shook the nation last week. On the morning of Monday, Sept. 16, a gunman opened fire at a military facility in Washington, D.C. When the smoke cleared, 13 were dead, including the gunman.
The shooting led the authorities to lock down part of the nation’s capital — even after the gunman was killed — in a hunt for two other armed men spotted by video cameras, officials said. However, by Monday evening, it was determined that the shooting was the work of one man, Aaron Alexis, 34, who was working for a military subcontractor .
Located about a half-mile from the Capitol, the Washington Navy Yard erupted in chaos as Alexis opened fire from an upper-level floor onto employees below. Twelve victims were killed, and eight more were injured. A few hours later, Alexis was shot to death by local police.
Officials have said that Alexis was discharged from the Navy in 2011 as a result of various incidents. One such incident occurred in 2010, when Alexis confronted an upstairs neighbor about being too loud then discharged a firearm. Another report stated that Alexis was arrested in 2004 for shooting the tires of a vehicle.
Officials said they were still searching for a motive as they asked the public for help by posting pictures of Mr. Alexis on the F.B.I. Web site. The agency is treating the shooting as a criminal investigation, not one related to terrorism.
Facts about the shooter have been released since Monday, including Alexis’ bizarre carvings onto the weapons used during the navy yard shooting. Phrases such as “Better off this way” were etched onto the guns, and officials are still not sure of the meaning behind them.
Alexis’ mental state was also put into question, and it was discovered that he had been suffering from mental health issues for the past few months. In August, he reportedly told police that he was hearing three different voices in his head.
This troubling new information about Alexis has opened an investigation into the military background check system.
Alexis’ mother, Cathleen Alexis, commented on her son’s actions on Wednesday, Sept. 18, and she apologized to the victims and their families. She expressed her sorrow for the devastation caused by her son and also expressed her contentment knowing that her son was in a place where he could not hurt anymore people.
According to Ms. Alexis’ neighbor, the family had no contact with Aaron Alexis, and he had not visited them since they moved into the building.
At this point, it is believed that this heinous act was not related to terrorism but was the result of a disturbed individual who may or may not have been aware of his actions.
A memorial service attended by President Obama was held on Sunday, Sept. 22 to honor those killed.
– Ashley Gresset, Contributing Writer