Internal voices haunted D.C. gunman
WASHINGTON — A day after a bloody rampage at the Washington Navy Yard left 13 dead, troubling new details emerged about the psychological state of gunman Aaron Alexis and why his life appeared to have suddenly unraveled.
Among the revelations: Alexis legally purchased a Remington 870 12-gauge shotgun on Saturday, two days before the shooting, in Lorton, Va. A new police report said Alexis was hearing voices, and Navy officials said the former Navy reservist had at least five military infractions.
Alexis apparently passed all background checks required in Virginia to buy the weapon. That raised questions because of two arrests for gun-related incidents in the states of Washington and Texas and, more importantly, what appears to have been a psychotic break little more than a month before the killings.
An Aug. 7 police report from the Newport Police Department in Rhode Island that was released said officers were dispatched to a Marriott hotel for a harassment report from Alexis. When they spoke to him, he explained that he'd been in an argument before boarding a flight from Virginia and that two men and a woman were sent to follow him and “and keep him awake by talking to him and sending vibrations into his body.”
The report said Alexis said he “first heard them talking to him through a wall while at the Residence Inn.” It said he'd switched to a hotel at a naval base before taking a room at the Marriott, where the voices were coming through the floor and ceiling, and that individuals who he feared would harm him were using “some sort of microwave machine” to send vibrations.
The report said the naval station police were notified and local police were advised that there would be a follow-up to determine whether Alexis, a reservist until 2011, was really a defense contractor.
The newly released police report raises questions about what happened to that information. His employer, defense subcontractor The Experts, issued a statement that said Alexis worked for the firm for six months. The company subcontracted with computing giant Hewlett-Packard and Alexis underwent two routine background checks plus two more comprehensive reviews to obtain secret-level clearance from the Defense Department.
“The latest background check and security clearance confirmation were in late June of 2013 and revealed no issues other than one minor traffic violation,” the company said.
The Navy announced that it was conducting a review of its security clearance procedures. A senior Pentagon official confirmed that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel would order a review of physical security and access at all Defense Department installations worldwide.
Law enforcement provided a new timeline of the shooting spree, revealing for the first time that the gunman had legally purchased a shotgun used in the attacks from a gun shop in Lorton, just outside the District of Columbia. The shop's legal counsel, J. Michael Slocum, provided a statement to McClatchy confirming that Alexis had bought a shotgun there less than 48 hours before the rampage