Yesterday’s horrific Washington Navy Yard shooting saw 12 innocent people killed and 8 wounded, and in the hours following, the media saw a host of inaccurate, unsubstantiated, and contradictory information. Reporting in the aftermath of such a tragedy often generates more confusion than clarity. Here’s what we know for certain — about the shooter, about the situation, about the victims — about what happened yesterday.
- All 12 of the deceased were contractors or civilians, authorities confirmed. Officials identified seven of those killed. They are: Michael Arnold, 59; Sylvia Frasier, 53; Kathy Gaarde, 62; John Roger Johnson, 73; Frank Kohler, 50; Vishnu Pandit, 61; and Kenneth Benard Proctor, 46. None of those killed were military personnel. Three others were shot but survived and are in good condition at a Washington hospital. Five more suffered contusions and chest pains.
- The rampage ended with the death of Aaron Alexis, 34, an IT contractor with medium security clearance. He had legitimate access and an ID badge to enter the Navy Yard. According to the FBI, Alexis was born in Queens, New York, and was last listed as a resident of Forth Worth, Texas. A motive is unclear, but friends of Alexis say he had been troubled over pay and benefits issues from a previous job. Federal law enforcement sources said he may have contacted Veterans Administration hospitals for treatment for psychological issues.
- The Washington Post obtained military personnel records confirming that “Alexis spent nearly four years in the Navy as a full-time reservist from May 2007 until he was discharged in January 2011.” Officials had moved to discharge him over various incidents of misconduct that included insubordination, unauthorized absences, and other infractions. It wasn’t enough for a general discharge, so Navy officials chose to grant him an honorable discharge.
- The Smoking Gun obtained details about Alexis’ criminal past. He was arrested in Forth Worth in September 2010 after an upstairs neighbor called authorities to report a bullet being shot into her apartment. The bullet had apparently traveled through her home’s floor and then through the ceiling. The woman reported being “terrified” of Alexis, who had confronted her in the past about making too much noise. She told police that she believed the shooting was “intentional.”
- In 2004, Alexis was also arrested by Seattle police after shooting out the tires of a man’s vehicle. Alexis described the incident to detectives as an “anger-fueled ‘blackout’” after perceiving he had been “mocked” and “disrespected” by the victims earlier in the day. He reported not being able to remember firing his gun at the victim’s vehicle until an hour following the incident. Alexis also told police that he had been present during September 11, 2001 and described having been disturbed by the events. His father confirmed that Alexis suffered from anger management problems associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and said that Alexis was an active participant in rescue attempts on that day.
- Authorities said they were in search of a second gunman throughout the day, but by nightfall, they said they were “confident” that Alexis acted alone. It is unclear how, exactly, Alexis was killed, but authorities have confirmed it was following an encounter with security.
Our hearts go out to the victims — the lost, the injured, and their families and loved ones — including Alexis’s friends and family.
[Image via Global Post]