(Washington, D.C.) — Family, friends and a nation are mourning those who were brutally murdered in a shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday. Now federal and local investigators are trying to get to the bottom of who the shooter really was, how he could possibly have received “secret” clearance to be on a Navy base given his history of violence and mental instability, how he got weapons onto the base, and whether he had accomplices.
As we pray for the Lord to comfort the loved ones of those lost — and to heal and comfort those who were wounded — here are the latest developments in this latest American mass murder saga:
- HISTORY OF MENTAL ILLNESS: “U.S. law enforcement officials are telling The Associated Press that the Navy contractor identified as the gunman in the mass shootings at the Washington Navy Yard had been suffering a host of serious mental issues, including paranoia and a sleep disorder,” reports AP. “He also had been hearing voices in his head, the officials said. Aaron Alexis, 34, 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 The Navy had not declared him mentally unfit, which would have rescinded a security clearance that Alexis had from his earlier time in the Navy Reserves.”
- HISTORY OF VIOLENCE: “Aaron Alexis lived for a time in a bungalow in the woods near a Buddhist temple in Fort Worth, where he occasionally joined Thai immigrants in meditation,” reported the Washington Post. “Aaron Alexis died Monday in a gun battle with police at the Washington Navy Yard after he allegedly killed at least 12 people. Along the way, the man named as the shooter in Monday’s mass killing at Building 197 was discharged from the Navy Reserve, arrested after firing a bullet through his downstairs neighbor’s ceiling and then asked to leave his Fort Worth apartment. One Navy official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Alexis was discharged in January 2011 for “a pattern of misconduct” and that the 2010 gun incident in Texas played a role in his departure. Another Navy official said Alexis was given a ‘general discharge,’ a classification often used to designate a blemished performance record. In some cases, a general discharge can make it difficult to land a civilian job. But Alexis, 34, had no such trouble. He moved from Fort Worth to Washington about a month ago, friends said, and was hired as an hourly tech employee for The Experts, a Hewlett-Packard subcontractor that is updating computer systems at Navy and Marine Corps installations worldwide. He was scheduled to begin work at the Washington Navy Yard this month.”
- HOW DID HE GET WEAPONS ONTO THE BASE: “Authorities investigating Monday’s D.C. shooting spree believe the gunman brought a shotgun, legally purchased from a suburban Virginia gun shop, to the Navy Yard and acquired additional weapons at the scene, according to three law enforcement officials,” reported the Washington Times. “The officials said Aaron Alexis of Fort Worth, Texas, a 34-year-old discharged Navy engineer, entered the building with a Remington 870 12-gauge shotgun that he’d purchased last week in Lorton, Va., and was later found with two additional weapons, a Glock handgun and an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. One scenario authorities were investigating was that he obtained the handgun and the rifle at the scene, possibly from victims. But officials cautioned the evidence analysis was still very fluid Monday night.”
- WAS IT TERRORISM? At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be a linkage between Alexis and any terror group, or extremist group. We’ll have to see how the investigation develops. But this headline is worth noting from Friday, September 13th: “Al Qaeda calls for attacks inside United States.”
- OBSESSED WITH VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES? The U.K. Telegraph reports “Washington navy yard gunman ‘obsessed with violent video games'” — reportedly played up to 16 hours at a time.