The 34-year-old former Navy electrician’s mate was discharged in 2011 after multiple disciplinary infractions and a “pattern of misconduct,” according to officials. Despite being discharged, Alexis still retained his security clearance and ability to enter the Navy Yard as a defense contract employee.
“It is really hard to believe that someone with a record as checkered as this man could conceivably get, you know, clearance to get”¦credentials to be able to get on the base,” said Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.
President Barack Obama mourned what he called another mass shooting that took the lives of American patriots. He promised to make sure “whoever carried out this cowardly act is held responsible.”
"We are confronting yet another mass shooting, and today it happened on a military installation in our nation's capital," Obama said. "It's a shooting that targeted our military and civilian personnel. These are men and women who were going to work, doing their job protecting all of us. They're patriots, and they know the dangers of serving abroad, but today they faced the unimaginable violence that they wouldn't have expected here at home," he added.
Officials said Alexis headed to Building 197, which is the headquarters of the Navy Sea Systems Command, and was armed with three weapons. According to witness accounts and police dispatch recordings, around 8:20 a.m. Alexis began to shoot down into an atrium that housed the employee cafeteria.
Â· Michael Arnold, 59
Â· Sylvia Frasier, 53
Â· Kathy Gaarde, 62
Â· John Roger Johnson, 73
Â· Frank Kohler, 50
Â· Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46
Â· Vishnu Pandit, 61
Â· Arthur Daniels, 51
Â· Mary Francis Knight, 51
Â· Gerald L. Read, 58
Â· Martin Bodrog, 54
Â· Richard Michael Ridgell, 52
Chief Cathy Lanier of the Metropolitan Police Department said police and Navy security engaged in several exchanges of fire with Alexis, resulting in his death. Lanier said police spent some time looking for a possible second suspect, but were convinced the shooting was done by a lone gunman and eased the lockdown around Monday night.
“We do now feel comfortable that we have the single and sole person responsible for the loss of life inside the base today,” Lanier said.
Around 3:30 p.m. people were allowed to begin leaving the base, as it had been on lockdown.
Dr. Janis Orlowski, chief operating officer at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, said they had admitted three of the victims in critical condition but expected more. She added that their chances for survival were good.
“From the reports of the victims, it had to be a semiautomatic,” she said. “They’re talking about gunshots that they heard in rapid succession.”
According to reports, Veterans Affairs had been treating Alexis for a slew of psychiatric problems since August, including paranoia, a sleep disorder and hearing voices in his head. Alexis had previous run-ins with the law in 2004 and 2010 in Fort Worth and Seattle and had been portrayed as having seething anger in the police reports.
During the shooting, nearby schools were locked down and all flights were grounded at the Reagan National Airport. In addition, security was tightened at other federal buildings.
The shooting has been called the deadliest attack on a U.S. military installation since 2009 when Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan killed 13 people and wounded 30 at Fort Hood in Texas.
While in the Navy, Alexis received the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, which are given to members of the armed forces that served during a national emergency.
The FBI has taken over the investigation of the shooting and Assistant Director Valeria Parlave has asked anyone with information on Alexis to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.
“No piece of information is too small,” Parlave said. “We are looking to learn everything we can about his recent movements," she added.
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