A civilian contractor and military veteran with a valid base entry pass went on a shooting rampage at a U.S. Navy command complex building Monday, killing 12 people before being shot dead himself, authorities said.
The suspected gunman was identified by the FBI as Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old civilian contractor from Queens, N.Y., who most recently resided in Fort Worth, Texas.
He was working for the fleet logistics support squadron No 46 in Forth Worth, Texas, when he left the service in January 2011. No further details of his discharge have been revealed. The FBI asked the public to contact the bureau with any tips related to the shooter.
“This investigation is still very active,” Valerie Parlave, the FBI’s assistant director-in-charge, said at a news conference. “No piece of information is too small.”
Washington Police Chief Cathy Lanier said 12 people were deceased. Washington Mayor Vincent Gray said four people were wounded in the shooting. Alexis was shot during a gun battle with officers.
The motive for the attack â€” the deadliest mass shooting on a military installation in the U.S. since the tragedy at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 â€” was a mystery, investigators said.
Alexis was arrested in Fort Worth in 2010 for discharging a firearm in city limits, police records show. Alexis told police he had fired the gun accidentally when he was cleaning it, according to a police report filed with the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office. Charges were never filed.
Seattle Police Department have released details of an incident in May 2004 in which Alexis shot out the tyres of a car claiming he had been traumatised by the 9/11 attacks, says the Sky News.
The report released by the police department said: “Alexis also told police he was present during ‘the tragic events of September 11, 2001’ and described ‘how those events had disturbed him’.
“Detectives later spoke with Alexis’ father, who lived in New York at the time, who told police Alexis had anger management problems associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and that Alexis had been an active participant in rescue attempts on September 11th, 2001.”
The assault at the highly secure Navy Yard unfolded about 8:20 a.m. in the heart of the nation’s capital, less than four miles from the White House and two miles from the Capitol.
According to the Reuters report, the command where the shooting takes place requires two separate identification badges, one to get on the base and another to access the building, according to a source who works at the Navy Yard and requested anonymity.
It was the worst attack at a U.S. military installation since U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan opened fire on unarmed soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009, killing 13 people and wounding 31 others. Hasan, who said he acted in retaliation for U.S. wars in Muslim countries, was convicted and sentenced to death by a military jury in August.
“We are confronting yet another mass shooting, and today it happened at another military installation, in our nation’s capital,” said President Barack Obama, who vowed to enact “sensible” gun control measures after a gunman shot dead 20 school children and six adults at an elementary school in Connecticut last December.
“They know the dangers of serving abroad, but today they face the unimaginable violence that they wouldn’t have expected here at home,” said Obama, who spoke at the start of a speech on the U.S. economy.