The 34-year-old gunman behind Monday’s mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard had a history of run-ins with the law, early stages of the investigation revealed. But now, more details about Aaron Alexis’ mental health history are beginning to emerge.
As recently as last month, Alexis complained about hearing voices from people he worried could be dangerous. According to a police report obtained by WNBC’s Jonathan Dienst, Alexis called officers to his hotel room in Newport, R.I., on Aug. 7, telling them he believed three people were following him and sending vibrations into his body. He said he heard voices through the walls, floor, and ceiling, but would not elaborate on what they were saying to him when asked.
Although he said that he had not seen any of these individuals, Alexis told police he believed they were two black men and one black female, the report states. Officers thought he showed signs of some mental deficiency, but decided that no further actions were required at the time.
Multiple sources tell NBC News that Alexis was treated for psychological issues at a VA hospital when he was working as a contractor in Rhode Island. Law enforcement officials also said Alexis was seen by the Veterans Administration twice.
When coupled with his gun-related arrests in Seattle and Fort Worth, many have asked why he was able to maintain his government clearance and purchase a weapon.
“That’s something the Defense Department will be looking at,” said NBC justice correspondent Pete Williams on NewsNation Tuesday. But because none of Alexis’ arrests led to a conviction, said Williams, there would be no court records to alert a contractor.
As for Alexis’ mental health history, said Williams, “there’s a question as to whether the VA can report if someone comes in and seeks any kind of treatment.”
Regardless, security flaws at Naval installations are nothing new. According to a Defense Department Inspector General report, made public on Tuesday, 52 convicted felons were given “routine, unauthorized installation access.”
Military officials said that Alexis had access to the Navy Yard, but not to Building 197, where he killed a dozen people.
Sen. Claire McCaskill has asked for a federal investigation into Alexis’ security clearance, citing reports that he had a “history of misconduct” and “previous arrests relating to the use of firearms,” NBC’s Michael Isikoff reports. Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Republican Sens. Ron Johnson and Rob Portman also signed the letter calling for an investigation.