Aaron Alexis, believed to be the lone gunman in the killing of 12 people at a Navy building in Washington Monday morning, was a Navy veteran from New York with a troubled past who was arrested in two previous shooting incidents.Maybe it is time to allow military men and women to carry loaded weapons on base again. First there was Fort Hood and Nidal Hasan's rampage among unarmed soldiers. Now there is Aaron Alexis and the Washington Navy Yard Massacre. Military men and women are trained to handle and use firearms. Keeping them unarmed means that when a crazed madman decides to shoot up a base he can be met immediately by armed men and women trained to shoot back. Soldiers, sailors and airmen many who have seen combat and men dying in battle.
Alexis, who was discharged from the Navy two years ago after serving hitches in Texas and Illinois, sprayed bullets from the fourth floor down to the cafeteria area in the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters in southeast Washington in an attack that began just after 8 a.m. Alexis died later as he traded shots with responding police, though it was not clear if he killed himself or was brought down by cops.
At a late night news conference, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said she was confident that Alexis was the "single and sole person responsible" despite earlier reports of a possible second shooter.
Washington Mayor Vincent Gray said that there was still no motive for the shootings and no indication of terrorism "although we haven't ruled that out."
Hewlett Packard issued a statement Monday night saying that at the time of the shootings, Alexis worked for The Experts, a subcontractor on an HP Enterprise Services contract to refresh equipment used on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet network. The FBI said he had legitimate access to the Navy Yard "as a result of his work as a contractor."
Gray said those killed ranged in age from 46 to 73. In addition, he said eight people were injured -- three by gunshots and the other five suffered injuries through non-shooting causes like stress and falls.
Late Monday night, D.C. police identified seven of the 12 victims: Michael Arnold, 59; Sylvia Frasier, 53; Kathy Gaarde, 62; John Roger Johnson, 73; Frank Kohler, 50; Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46; and Vishnu Pandit, 61.
Many who managed to escape in the early minutes of the episode recalled panic and fear after a routine Monday morning was shattered with fire from an AR-15 and a handgun.
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Today is a sad day for the US Navy and the United States.