Navy Yard shooting: Aaron Alexis' past fell short of raising red flags
WASHINGTON (WJLA) - About a month before going on a murderous rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, Aaron Alexis called police to his Newport, R.I., hotel, saying someone had sent three people to follow him and keep him awake by talking to him and sending vibrations to his body through a "microwave machine."
Alexis told officers he had heard “voices speaking to him through the wall, flooring and ceiling."
Sources say Alexis had sought treatment from the Veterans Affairs Department for psychiatric issues.
But these warning signs did not raise a red flag that might have prevented Alexis from entering the military base where he killed 12 people on Monday.
Richard Cooter, head of George Washington University’s forensic psychology program, says delusions and workplace grievances aren’t reliable predictors of mass murderers.
“If you try to put them together in an instrument to identify shooters, you’d falsely identify lots of people who also have legal rights, as they should,” says Cooter.
As a Navy reservist, Alexis had been cited for insubordination and disorderly conduct, but he kept his security clearance.
“Looking at the offenses while he was in uniform, none of those give you an indication that he was capable of this sort of brutal, vicious violence,” says Rear Adm. John Kirby, U.S. Navy chief of information.
And when Alexis finally came to Washington, the downward spiral continued.
Benita Bell ran into him twice last week in a hotel lobby.
“His countenance was just different,” Bell says. “Tuesday: engaging, present, connected. Wednesday: hurried, appearing stressed.”
Alexis' mother apologized Wednesday for her son's actions.
“To the families of the victims, I am so, so very sorry that this has happened. My heart is broken,” Cathleen Alexis said.
Due to privacy laws, area mental health clinics cannot say whether Alexis was treated.