Aaron Alexis, armed with an assault rifle and a handgun, entered the Washington Navy Yard on Monday morning and opened fire, killing 12 people and wounding a number of others. Alexis, who was shot dead at the scene, had a history with guns and bouts of unchecked rage.

Alexis, 34, was working for Hewlet-Packard subcontractor The Experts, which was responsible for refreshing equipment that’s used on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI), reported ABC News. His employment with the company afforded him an ID badge that gave him access to the Navy Yard base.

Prior to his work as a subcontractor, Alexis had been a Navy reservist. He was discharged in 2011 following a 2010 gun-related offense. While based at Fort Worth in Texas, Alexis was arrested after allegedly firing a weapon into the ceiling of his apartment and into the residence of the woman above him. According to a police report, the woman and Alexis had an ongoing feud in which he would repeatedly complain about her being too loud. At the time, Alexis claimed the shot was an accident, though the woman was convinced it was intentional, reported the Los Angeles Times. He was never charged.

In 2004, Alexis was arrested after construction workers saw him shoot out the tires of one of their vehicles. "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,’” Seattle police said in a statement. "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."


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Despite the 2004 incident, Alexis was able to enroll in the U.S. Navy reserves in 2007. From February 2008 until his discharge in 2011, Alexis served as a Navy aviation electrician’s mate third class. During his service, he was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism service medal.

Following his discharge, Alexis worked for Fort Worth restaurant Happy Bowl Thai. While living with an acquaintance in the area, Alexis converted to Buddhism and prayed regularly at a local Buddhist temple. He had also enrolled as an online student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University studying aviation and aerospace.

While many have expressed surprise that Alexis, by most accounts an amiable and friendly man, would have committed such an atrocity, others saw a different side to him. His father, for one, indicated that his son struggled with PTSD and never recovered after helping out at 9/11’s Ground Zero. A former coworker at the Happy Bowl Thai restaurant suggested that Alexis was bitter towards the Navy, and shared feelings of resentment for not getting the benefits and pay that he was due. According to an official, he was also in the middle of a salary dispute with the HP subcontractor The Experts.

While law enforcement officials continue to look into the man responsible for the country’s latest mass murder, they’ve yet to pin down an exact motive for Alexis’ rampage.

– Chelsea Regan

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