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Accused Navy shooter had history of mental illness: family

WASHINGTON, DC (NEWS1130) – New details are emerging about the man accused of killing 12 of his co-workers at the Washington Navy Yard, before he was shot and killed by police.

Family members of Aaron Alexis say the 34-year-old had a long history of mental health issues, including anger management issues related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They say his problems developed after he participated in rescue attempts following the 9-11 attacks in New York City.

The FBI is now investigating whether Alexis ever sought treatment for his mental health issues.

Melinda Downs called Alexis her friend.

“When I first heard about it, I was in denial — like maybe someone stole his identification,” she says. “It’s gotta be somebody else, it can’t possibly be him, it’s not him.”

Friends in Fort Worth, Texas have described Alexis as a thoughtful and compassionate person. A former roommate told reporters “it’s not even in his character.”

But it’s becoming clear that the Navy contractor was having difficulties.

The Washington Post reports Alexis’ bosses cited him for misconduct on at least eight occasions. Some of the infractions were minor, like traffic tickets and write-ups for being late for work; but there were significant issues like insubordination and long, unexplained absences from work.

Alexis also had police contact on two previous occasions of incidents where shots were fired. In 2010, he told police in Fort Worth he was cleaning a gun when it went off, sending a bullet into the apartment below.

In 2008, Alexis admitted to officers in Seattle that he fired a shot into a neighbour’s parked car, but said he ‘blacked out’ before the incident.

The US military held a service today for the 12 victims of yesterday’s shooting. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel laid a wreath at a Navy memorial near the White House, as Taps played in the background.

Seven of the 12 victims have been identified, including a grandfather of nine who was shot in the back while trying to escape. Arthur Daniels was 51 years old. The victims range in age from 46 to 73.