On Monday, Sept. 16, the nation watched in horror as another mass shooting took place. Just moments after 8 a.m., Aaron Alexis came out of the bathroom on the 4th floor of Building 197 of the Navy Yard, shotgun in hand, and started indiscriminately firing at people. He proceeded to the atrium, down to the 3rd and 2nd floors, and to the lobby where he shot a security guard. Alexis then took the guard’s handgun, using it as he went back upstairs. The incident left 13 dead: the shooter and 12 victims.
After taking time to put the pieces together, determining motive and the possibility of other shooters, authorities have begun to make more sense of the situation. They have determined that it was Aaron Alexis, 34, a Navy contractor. Other shooters have been ruled out and it was determined that Alexis acted alone. However, there seems to be no clear motive as authorities continue to investigate background information on Alexis, particularly his mental health and criminal history.
According to authorities, Alexis did not shoot at any person or group in particular. According to James B. Comey, director of the FBI, he was “hunting people to shoot” and he was “shooting with no discernible pattern.” With the seeming lack of a solid motive, authorities are investigating Alexis’ mental instability as a possible set off of the shooting.
Alexis, interviewed by Rhode Island police on Aug. 7, claimed to hear voices in his head which he claimed were sent by “microwave machines.” This information was not taken as a serious threat and never reached Pentagon officials. It included reports by Alexis about hearing voices and being bombarded with vibrations by other people. He had also gone to the va medical center complaining about insomnia due to work. Friends and those close to Aaron Alexis had said he would complain about not being paid enough. He frequently seemed withdrawn and isolated.
His criminal history shows prior run ins with the law that involved use of firearms. These included Alexis shooting out a man’s tire while in a fit of anger, and shooting through his apartment ceiling when angry about the neighbor’s loud music.
President Obama called this “yet another mass shooting,” referring to the other recent mass shootings including Sandy Hook, Aurora, and the several others in recent years that seem to be all too common. Like these other shootings, the issue of mental health has entered the discussion of gun rights and gun safety here in America. As authorities are still trying to piece together a motive for this terrible tragedy, they are looking at mental health as a primary factor in this investigation.
His criminal history includes three prior run-ins with the law which all involved the use of firearms.