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Navy, VA faulted in Washington Navy Yard shooting

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By The Associated Press
Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, 9:48 p.m.

TAMPA — The family of a woman slain during the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard is seeking $37.5 million from the government, claiming that the Navy and the Department of Veterans Affairs ignored red flags about the killer's deteriorating mental health.

During a news conference on Friday in Tampa, attorneys for the family of Mary DeLorenzo Knight said they are seeking the money in an administrative claim — one of the first steps toward filing a lawsuit. The claim was delivered to both agencies.

Knight was one of 12 people gunned down on Sept. 16 by Aaron Alexis before he was killed in a shootout with police.

The lawsuit said the contractor that Alexis worked for should have told the Navy about his mental-health problems and that the Navy should not have given him security clearance. Navy officials have said they found no record that the company alerted the Navy about his mental health.

Knight, a 51-year-old divorced mother of two adult daughters, was born into a military family and worked as an expert in cybersecurity at the Navy Yard.

Under federal law, the Navy and VA must investigate the claim and determine whether it has merit. If they believe it doesn't, attorneys for Knight's family said they will sue.

A VA spokesman and a Navy spokeswoman said they could not comment.

“The Navy remains committed to providing continued support to the victims and families of this tragic event through our Washington Navy Yard Recovery Task Force,” said Navy spokeswoman Courtney L. Hillson.

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