Washington Navy Yard shooting: Aaron Alexis 'had history of violence'
Published 17/09/2013 | 04:40
The gunman who killed 12 people in the Washington Navy Yard rampage was arrested on two separate occasions for rage-fuelled incidents in which he apparently fired his weapon in anger – but escaped jail on both occasions.
Hours after the shooting a picture was emerging of Aaron Alexis, 34, as a conflicted young man who was a former Navy Reservist.
US officials said that Alexis he had been discharged from the Naval reserve in 2011 after "multiple" disciplinary breaches, the Los Angeles Times reported, adding that Alexis “had a pattern of misconduct,” the official said.
Alexis was passionate about Thai culture, attended a local temple in Texas and – according to his father – had been involved in rescue attempts during the September 11 attacks.
In 2004 Alexis was arrested in Seattle after shooting out a man's tires in what he described as a rage-fuelled "blackout".
And in 2010 Alexis was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas for firing a pistol through his ceiling to silence an allegedly noisy neighbour, it emerged last night.
Following the Seattle arrest, Alexis' father also told police his son "had been an active participant in rescue attempts on September 11, 2001,"according to a Seattle police report.
Seattle police said Alexis shot the rear tires of a construction worker's Honda Accord that had parked outside of his home on May 6, 2004, but was not arrested until a month later.
"Following his arrest, Alexis told detectives he perceived he had been 'mocked' by construction workers the morning of the incident and said they had 'disrespected him.' Alexis also claimed he had an anger-fueled 'blackout', and could not remember firing his gun at the victims' vehicle until an hour after the incident," Seattle police said in a statement.
The case was referred to the Seattle Municipal Court but records do not show any conviction.
Alexis was also booked by police in Fort Worth Texas over an incident on September 4 2010, but local authorities again declined to press charges,leaving him without a criminal record.
The Fort Worth police report said that Alexis had fired his gun through the ceiling of his apartment, narrowly missing an unnamed woman upstairs who he was engaged in a feud with over noise.
"She told that she was sitting in her chair when she heard a loud pop and saw the dust. She then saw that their [sic] was a hole in her foot just a couple of feet from where she was sitting," the local officer reported.
The district attorney's did not press charges after the incident even though the woman told police she was "terrified" of Alexis and believed he had fired the gun "intentionally" after calling police several times to complain his neighbour was "being loud".
"She said that several days ago Aaron confronted her in the parking lot about making too much noise," the report states.
The authorities said they had accepted Alexis's explanation that the weapon had discharged accidentally as was "trying to clean his gun while cooking and that his hands were slippery".
"After reviewing the facts presented by the police department, it was determined that the elements constituting recklessness under Texas law were not present and a case was not filed," a statement from the District Attorney's office said.
Alexis explained that he had not gone to see to the woman because he didn't think the bullet had passed all the way through the ceiling, and believed that neighbours would have dismissed the sound of the gun being fired as "a fire cracker".
Police in New York said that Alexis has been involved in a violent incident in High School in July 1997 when another student had broken a glass bottle over his head.
Alexis has also obtained a rifle permit from the New York Police Department, and had used in ranges around the city, the DNAInfo website reported.
However this picture of Alexis as a man with serious anger-management problems was contrasted by local friends in Fort Worth who told The Daily Telegraph that he was a fascinated by Thai culture and would spend hours practicing the language. He had recently visited Thailand according to local newspaper reports in Texas.
"He was very interested in all Thai things. He was really nice and wanted to speak to speak Thai and actually learned pretty fast," Tiki Confer, the owner of the Bangkok House restaurant in Fort Worth, told The Daily Telegraph.
Alexis also spent a long time visiting with monks at a nearby Buddhist temple but Ms Confer said she had not seen him since 2008. "He seemed to be a very happy guy, always smiling," she added.
Military records show Alexis served full time in the US Navy's Reserve from May 2007 to January 2011, a Navy official told Reuters.
Alexis achieved his top rank of Petty Officer 3rd Class in December 2009, and officials said they did not immediately know the reasons for his discharge.
He was assigned to the Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 46 at Naval Air Station Fort Worth in Texas for the bulk of his time in the military, from 2008 until he left the service in 2011, records show.
He was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal two common awards for military personnel.
Other friends in Fort Worth also confirmed that Alexis was deeply interested in Thai culture and had left the Navy because he hated getting up early.
The owner of local Thai restaurant, the Happy Bowl in White Settlement, Texas said that Alexis, who had also worked as a waiter and deliver driver for the restaurant part-time, had been his "best friend" and didn't fit the profile of an angry lone gunman.
"He lived with me for three years," Nutpisit Suthamtewakul told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram . "I don't think he'd do this. He has a gun, but I don't think he's that stupid. He didn't seem aggressive to me."
By Peter Foster and Raf Sanchez