More Details Emerge About Navy Yard Shooter

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Images of Aaron Alexis are shown in a handout from the FBI seeking more information about the man authorities say committed the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. (FBI)
Images of Aaron Alexis are shown in a handout from the FBI seeking more information about the man authorities say committed the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. (FBI)

The deadly attack at the Washington Navy Yard was carried out by a lone gunman, according to authorities: 34-year-old Aaron Alexis.

[sidebar title="About Aaron Alexis" width="260" align="right"]Age: 34

Place of Birth: Queens, N.Y.

Last Known Residence: Fort Worth, Texas

Date Enlisted: May 5, 2007

Rank/Rating: Aviation Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class / AE3

Awards and Decorations: National Defense Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal[/sidebar]

Alexis, a defense contract employee and former Navy reservist, used a valid pass to get into the Navy Yard. Investigators say 12 people were killed when he started firing inside a building.

Details about Alexis are coming into focus. He had obtained a concealed carry permit in Texas. He was described as a Buddhist who had also had flares of rage, complained about the Navy and being a victim of discrimination. Alexis had several run-ins with law enforcement, including two shootings.

Authorities say the motive for the mass shooting is a mystery.

U.S. law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that Alexis had been suffering a host of serious mental issues, including paranoia and a sleep disorder. He also had been hearing voices in his head, the officials said.

Alexis had been treated since August by the Veterans Administration for his mental problems, the officials said. 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The Navy had not declared him mentally unfit, which would have rescinded a security clearance Alexis had from his earlier time in the Navy Reserves.

Before Alexis moved to Washington, D.C., he was a waiter at the Happy Bowl Thai restaurant in White Settlement, Texas. Michael Ritrovato worked with Alexis there.

"He was immature in the sense that sometimes — not all the time — his whole persona is he would try to be a managerial type for the restaurant. But, you know, at home, he was more of an immature person who was online doing online violent games. And so he spent a lot of time in his bedroom, so to speak, acting like a 13-year-old," Ritrovato told Here & Now.

After Alexis moved to Washington, Ritrovato got a call from him.

"It was low paying with this company, and Aaron wasn't getting paid and he called me upset about it and needing help financially because he'd had some problems — car breaking down, things like that," Ritrovato said. "He had quit with that company because they weren't paying him, and then he went back to work with that company. Maybe they came through financially, or maybe he went to work with them for lesser pay, but he was not getting what he said they offered."

Bud Kennedy is a columnist at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He interacted with Alexis when he would go to the Happy Bowl Thai restaurant, when Alexis was a server.

“He didn’t seem like somebody who’d be waiting in a restaurant,” Kennedy told Here & Now. “He was reserved and soft spoken, and I’ve told people he seemed bookish.”

The Associate Press reports Alexis was treated for paranoia and sleeplessness, among other mental health issues, but Kennedy says that was not apparent from the interactions he had with Alexis.

“Some of our other copyeditors went there often and got to know him well, and said he was very playful with their children,” Kennedy said. “I don’t think those of us who went there as customers thought he had mental health issues.”

The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.


  • Daniel Zwerdling, correspondent in NPR's Investigations Unit.
  • Michael Ritrovato, worked with Aaron Alexis at Happy Bowl Thai restaurant in White Settlement, Texas.
  • Bud Kennedy, columnist at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram who had interacted with Aaron Alexis at Happy Bowl. He tweets @BudKennedy.

This segment aired on September 17, 2013.


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