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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/16/13

Guests: Courtney Kube

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home for staying with us this hour. Today`s mass shooting at the Navy Yard facility in southwest Washington, D.C., makes today the deadliest day in our nation`s capitol in more than 30 years. January 1982 was when a 737 that had taken off from National Airport, what we now call Reagan Airport, crashed into the 14th Street Bridge in Washington and then into the icy Potomac River -- 78 people were killed in that crash that day, including four people who had been on the bring or on the ground and were hit by the crashing plane. Incredibly, that same day in Washington, D.C., back in 1982, the same day as the plane crash, also saw a fatal derailment of a subway in the city. Three people were killed when the metro derailed in a downtown tunnel. Those accidents both happened on one day in Washington. But that terrible day in Washington was 31 years ago. Four years ago in Washington, there was another Metro train crash which killed nine people. But today was the worst day in Washington, D.C., in a generation. Reporting of the story of what happened today in this mass shooting at the Navy Yard meant tallying up what seemed to be a new, higher death toll just about every hour over the course of the day. The latest information that we have is that 13 people lost their lives today, including the apparent shooter, and that 14 other people were injured in the attack. That puts today`s incident in Washington on par with the Columbine shooting in 1999 or the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting last summer, or the Binghamton, New York, shooting in 2009 at the immigration center there, and of course, the Ft. Hood shooting that took place later that same year, seven months later. Until we know more about why this happened and how this happened today, it`s hard to know whether to put this as the latest in a list of workplace mass shootings, or the latest in a list of random mass shootings committed by the insane, or the latest in a list of terrorist mass shootings committed by perpetrators who thought they had a point or that they were on a mission of some kind. Initial reports that this was an incident involving multiple shooters today led to the supposition that this could have been a coordinated attack and that it, therefore, could more likely be a terrorist incident. But the multiple-shooter thesis from earlier in the day does not seem at all clear tonight. Soon after announcing that they were seeking two other people in addition to the shooter, who was killed at the scene, police today announced that they had found and cleared one of those two men who they had asked the public for help in finding. As the second person police were seeking, we have very little information. Police said they are seeking to identify and to speak with a black man in his 40s who has gray sideburns, who was seen wearing an olive drab military-style uniform. We do not know why law enforcement is seeking this person, beyond the fact that he was reportedly seen on surveillance footage in a way that made them want to talk to him. The FBI has released photos and basic information about the apparent shooter in the incident who died at the scene. His name is Aaron Alexis, 34 years old. He served just under four years in the Navy Reserves. He left the service in January 2011. He never served on active duty. His last posting was in Ft. Worth, Texas, at the naval air station there. But that was a couple years ago. Local reporting indicated that he subsequently worked as a waiter at a Thai restaurant near the naval air station in Ft. Worth. Sources tell NBC News that he had recently started work as a civilian defense contractor. At this point, it is only becoming clearer now, we`re only getting late details tonight as to whether or not that job as a contractor gave him ties specifically to the Navy Yard facility where the shooting happened now. Throughout this story, the lines are blurred between civilian and military. Obviously, this is a military facility where this happened, but many, if not most, of the victims appear to have been civilians. Navy Yard is a relatively secure naval facility with a perimeter fence and marine guards, but it has many civilian workers. It`s home to the National Museum of the U.S. Navy, which is open to the public, and it is nestled in the heart of Washington, D.C. The Navy Yard is two subway stops and less than two miles away from the U.S. Capitol building. It`s right next to where the Washington Nationals baseball team plays. That home game there tonight has been rescheduled for tomorrow because the stadium is so close to where this happened. This was an attack on a military headquarters. This was an attack on the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command. But this was not removed from civilian life. This happened in the middle of a major U.S. city. Some of the victims today were taken to Washington hospital center, which has a very well regarded trauma center. Because of the toll of gun violence in the civilian streets of Washington, D.C., Washington hospital center has extensive, extensive experience treating gunshot wounds, so much so that Army physicians and Navy physicians train at Washington hospital center to ramp up their gunshot treatment skills before they deploy into combat zones. The chief medical officer for that facility acknowledged that experience today, that they have had to develop, and then she sort of let loose with some emotion about what it means about us, what it says about us as a country, that that combat trauma experience is needed here at home. Speaking today on a day when it very much was needed here at home. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. JANIS ORLOWSKI, WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: We see a significant number of gunshot victims here at the hospital center, and I will tell you that between working with our partners that are the first responders, who are excellent at initial stabilization and then bringing them here, we actually are very, very successful in having people live through these multiple gunshot wounds. The other thing that I would mention to you is that we have a very close relationship with military physicians, and it`s not unusual that we have Navy or Army physicians who are rotating through the MedStar Washington Hospital Center. They work with us, they work in our trauma bay, and it`s an opportunity for them to keep their skills up when they are in a noncombat situation. So, we have a close and multiyear relationship with the military. We see a lot of trauma, and you know, sometimes it`s -- sometimes it`s just, you know, accidents that occur that we get to help people with because they`re accidents. And then you see what I call senseless trauma, and there is something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work on to try and eradicate. I have to say, I may see this every day, I may, you know, be the chief medical officer of a very large trauma center, but there is something wrong here when we have these multiple shootings, these multiple injuries, there`s something wrong. And the only thing that I can say is we have to work together to get rid of it. I`d like you to put my trauma center out of business. I really would. I would like to not be an expert on gunshots and not to be an expert on this. We are. We do it well. Very extreme surgeons at the clinic, quite frankly, I`d rather they were doing their surgery on other things. And so, it`s a great city, it`s a great country, and we have to work together to get rid of this, because we just cannot have, you know, one more shooting with, you know, so many people killed. We`ve got to figure this out. We`ve got to be able to help each other. We`re dealing right now with three innocent people. But my prayers and my thoughts go out to those people who have died as a result of today and, you know, their families and what they`re going to have to go through. So, I have to say, you know, it`s a challenge to all of us. Let`s get rid of this. This is -- this is not America. This is not Washington, D.C. This is -- this is not good. So, we`ve got to work to get rid of this. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Dr. Janis Orlowski is the chief medical center of the MedStar Hospital in Washington, D.C., which deals with lots of gunshot injuries all the time. The doctor there making an emotional plea about this latest mass shooting in our country today. As Washington Hospital Center was one of several area hospitals called on to treat the two dozen casualties of today`s mass shooting. Again, the death toll at this hour for the Navy Yard shooting stands at 12, plus the shooter himself, for a total of 13. The number of injured at this hour stands at 14. Police say the apparent shooter did die at the scene today, but they are still looking for another person who was seen surveillance camera footage. We do not know what this person was seen doing on the footage that made law enforcement want to speak with him, but he is described as a black male in his 40s with gray sideburns wearing an olive drab military- style uniform. Joining us now is NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams. Pete, thanks for being with us. What can you tell us about that second individual who police say they want to question? PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I think that that`s pretty well washed out by now. They won`t completely write it off yet because they want to try to figure out exactly who this person was that was seen in the surveillance video carrying what we believe to be a long gun. But there are some indications that that picture shows the shooter himself. In any event, there are lots of people authorized to carry weapons on a military facility like this. Just about everybody I`ve talked to scratch the just about -- everybody I talked to thinks this is the work of one person. So I think that`s all but washed out. MADDOW: Pete, in terms of the ongoing nature of this, are there still people on base, people being kept there by police and law enforcement? WILLIAMS: Yes, they still are for a couple of reasons. One is the FBI wants to interview anybody who saw the shooting, wants to talk to them. So, there`s that. Secondly, the Navy wants to do a careful census, count heads, take attendance of everybody who is accounted for so that they can keep careful records. And then you have this fact that the D.C. police department still is trying to check out this report of another person, which I think is going to turn out to be a washout, but they are just being very careful. And so, for all those reasons -- that`s right, everybody hasn`t gone home yet. MADDOW: Wow. Have you learned any more details late today and tonight about this alleged shooter, Aaron Alexis? We`ve got reports today that he did have some relatively minor criminal history, also some interesting reports about his status as a defense contractor. How does that relate potential access to this site? WILLIAMS: Well, he certainly had access to the site. There`s no question about that. What we believe is that he came up here the last couple of days to work with a team of contractors on a military computer project and that they were staying in a hotel, a residence inn right near the Washington Navy Yard, and that`s how he -- that`s why he was so up close. Still not 100 percent clear whether he was going to work at the Navy Yard today or whether he just was near the Navy Yard, but he has a Navy connection. He was in the naval reserve, he was an electronics specialist. He worked in several places. He worked in Ft. Worth, Texas. He`s originally from New York. His parents still live there. As far as his criminal past, three years ago, he was arrested for firing a weapon that went into the apartment above him, didn`t hurt anybody. The police questioned him. He said he was cleaning his gun but he was charged with that. And nine years ago when he was living in Seattle, police charged him with shooting out the tires of a car that was driven by some workers who were parking near where he lived. He told them that the shooting was the result of what he called an anger-fueled blackout. And at the time, Seattle police say they called his father, who was still living in New York, who said that his son had some anger management issues and that he`s had them ever since he helped rescue people in New York City on 9/11. Now, we know that he`s had a history of treatment for psychiatric issues, and authorities are saying tonight they believe that he was rapidly deteriorating. Whether he had some specific grievance with the Navy, we just don`t know, but it would appear that his mental past, his mental stability is in question and may have been a contributing factor here. MADDOW: Pete, is there confirmation that he was, in fact, a first responder or some sort of emergency responder on 9/11? Do we know that or is that just from the Seattle PD at this point? WILLIAMS: It`s from his father, and that would be very, very difficult to confirm. You know, so many people responded. That`s what his family says. Whether it`s true or not, we don`t know. Whether they know for sure or not, we don`t know. I guess we have to assume it`s true. What it has to do with anything, who knows? MADDOW: One last question for you, Pete. What do we know about the weapons that he may have had, and does that tell us anything about what it might have taken for him to get that kind of weaponry into the Navy Yard facility? WILLIAMS: Sure, good questions. And I guess I have two answers to that. There`s nothing that we know of in his past, even though he had treatment at V.A. hospitals for some psychiatric issues, nothing that would have disqualified him from buying a weapon. Remember that the federal standard is a judged mentally incompetent. That`s the phrase in the federal law, or mentally defective I think is actually the word that the statute uses. So, a judge has to make a finding that you`re -- you have a mental problem that would disqualify you, not merely that you have psychiatric problems. So, the weapon, we believe, was purchased just within the past few days, just last week at a gun store in Lorton, Virginia, which is about 20 miles from Washington, D.C. It takes about an hour to drive there on the very crowded Interstate 95, but it`s right nearby here. We believe, or at least the investigators tell me they believe that he came to the Navy Yard today carrying only that shotgun. That once he shot his way in, that he then grabbed two other weapons, taking an AR-15 semiautomatic weapon, perhaps from the guard station there, and then shooting a law enforcement officer and taking the officer`s handgun so that by the time he was shot and killed, they recovered three weapons. The shotgun they believe he had in the first place and the other two that he picked up along the way. MADDOW: Stunning. That`s absolutely stunning. NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams -- Pete, thank you very much. Appreciate you being here. Thank you. WILLIAMS: You bet. OK. MADDOW: All right, more on who the apparent shooter was today. We`ll have a live report from one of the places where he reportedly worked before coming to Washington, D.C. Plus, there`s lots more ahead. Stay with us. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are confronting yet another mass shooting, and today it happened on a military installation in our nation`s capital. It`s a shooting that targeted our military and civilian personnel. These are men and women who were going to work doing their job protecting all of us. They`re patriots. And they know the dangers of serving abroad, but today they faced the unimaginable violence that they wouldn`t have expected here at home. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Much more about today`s mass shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, including new details still coming in over the course of tonight. Stay with us. We`ve got more ahead, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The city of Washington has oddly shaped borders. You can tell from the shape of the city that it did not form organically as an obvious place for a city. You can see from its shape that they had to carve it out of existing land in Maryland and Virginia. What ended up looking like kind of a bite out of Maryland started off in the 1790s as George Washington`s idea of a city whose borders would be basically a perfect square. Well, over time, the borders ended up looking instead like this, with one of e sides of the square becoming the Potomac River. Still, though, the city itself is in four quadrants. You have to really pay attention to whether there is a northwest or a southeast or something, appended to the end of your state address in Washington because the city is divided into those four corners, and there is an intersection of say 6th Street and G Street in each of those four quadrants. So, you need to know which one you`re supposed to be in. The spot where those four quadrants come together is the U.S. Capitol, on Capitol Hill, the building that houses the House and the Senate, right? The geographic center of the city. It was on lockdown for a good part of the day today because it is close to the scene of today`s mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. The Navy Yard sits on the banks of the Anacostia River. It`s the oldest military installation in the country. It was built in 1799 and has been in operation ever since, except for the time when we burnt it down ourselves on purpose to keep the British from getting their hands on it in the war of 1812, when the British stormed D.C. and burned down the White House. But aside from that, we`ve been using it the whole time. Today, something like 16,000 civilian and uniformed personnel work at the Washington Navy Yard. There are several entrances to the grounds. All of the entrances are guarded by U.S. marines and by other security personnel. The grounds are big. There`s more than 2 million square feet of office space there, dozens and dozens of buildings. The building where today`s shooting took place is called building 197. It`s the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command. On any given day, there is something like 3,000 people working in that one command alone. The Naval Sea Systems Command is responsible for designing and building and engineering ships and weapons for the U.S. Navy. Building 197 is described as a high-security facility, but interestingly, it also serves as an entrance for visitors who want to access the Navy Yard. So, if you want to get into other parts of the yard, you have to go through building 197. Employees have to show ID, they have to show their badges and they go through locking turnstiles. Visitors have to go through security, and usually, they have to be pre-cleared in order to enter the building. At one of the many law enforcement press conferences today updating the public on the ongoing and fast-moving developments of the story, one of the very first questions from reporters was -- do you have any idea how the shooter got into the building? How could the shooter access this high- security building at the Navy Yard? Authorities at one of those press conferences, as soon as they were asked that, said they do not know, and it remains one of the many unanswered questions still tonight. Joining us now is NBC News national security producer Courtney Kube. Courtney, thanks very much for being here tonight. I know it`s been an exhausting day. COURTNEY KUBE, NBC NEWS PRODUCER: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: So, this building where the shooting took place, the Pentagon is part of your beat. You`ve done a lot of reporting on military institutions in Washington. Tell us about this site at the Navy Yard. This is the headquarters of the Sea Systems Command. KUBE: It is, right. It`s the Navy Sea Systems Command building, where the shooting took place today. So, basically, you know, you mentioned there`s about 3,000 people that work in that building. Those people themselves have a building access badge. They have something that they go through a turnstile, they swipe a badge, they show an officer their ID. So, there`s a picture on there. They have to show a visual confirmation to an officer that they are who they are swiping in to be. And then they can access the building. Well, you also mentioned visitors. Basically, anyone who has a common access card, which is a card that most members of the military, many DOD, Department of Defense officials have, if they have that card, they can access the Navy Yard and Navy Sea Systems Command as long as they show that and go through a visitors` entrance, and they get magged, they get swiped, they go through security, but they can actually access the building with their common access card. MADDOW: We don`t know yet about whether or not this young man`s employment as a civilian government contractor working in IT, his apparent security clearance we`re learning tonight, we don`t know whether those things would have gotten him in the door. We heard from Pete Williams just moments ago that it seems like what may have happened in terms of his weapons is that he showed up with a shotgun, blasted his way in far enough to then claim other weapons from other people who he attacked on his way in. Do you have any sense of how far he would be able to get if he didn`t have a badge to get in? Would he be up against armed guards or people who could repel an invasion before that point? KUBE: Oh, absolutely. I think it`s probably likely at this point. So, the security contractor he was working for, he did sort of basic IT work. But this basic work involved going through the Navy Marine Corps intranet system, basically, the Navy and the Marine Corps`s internal computer system. So, he wouldn`t necessarily need a very high-level security clearance for that, but he would need some level of a security clearance just to do the job that he was hired to do. So, I think what`s more likely is he either had some sort of a military ID, he had some sort of a common access card, something like that that would have been able to get him on to the base, potentially into Navy Sea Systems Command as a visitors, or frankly, if he was there doing some sort of a contracting job, he may have had someone who would have even escorted him in the building. MADDOW: Courtney, in terms of the ongoing nature of this, we`re just talking with Pete about how there still are a lot of people who are still on site at Navy Yard not being let out to go home yet. They`re still maintaining this is an active investigation. As somebody who covers this part of Washington and deals with government officials who cover this part of policy, how disruptive is this going to continue to be as this investigation continues? Can you tell yet? KUBE: Oh, I mean, tremendously disruptive. Think about, there`s thousands of people who are working in this building, who were working at the Navy Yard today. For one thing, just on a very basic level, they couldn`t get their cars out. They couldn`t drive themselves home at the end of the day. Everything is locked down. Many of them -- they sheltered in place. They don`t have their purses. They don`t have their briefcases. They may not have their house keys. So, I mean, on a personal level, it`s very disruptive for those people. On a larger scale, this is a tremendous asset to the U.S. Navy, this Navy Sea Systems Command and the naval yard in general, and it`s basically, it`s on a virtual standstill right now. The Navy Yard is operating on only the most limited personnel tonight and tomorrow, and potentially for the next several days while the FBI continues their investigation. MADDOW: Courtney Kube, national security producer for NBC News and an invaluable asset to all of us covering this stuff. Courtney, thank you very much for being with us tonight. I appreciate it. KUBE: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: If it seems like mass shootings like we saw today are becoming more common, that`s because they are becoming more common. We will have more on that coming up. Stay with us. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve got a report on the fourth floor, a male with a shotgun. Multiple shots fired. Multiple people down. We`re still waiting for the OK that the scene has been secured. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t feel secure coming into government buildings anymore. I`ve not worked in government for almost 37 years. FREEDOM MUSHAW, WITNESS: We`ll recover from it. And we`ll fix our problems and move on. (END VIDEO CLIPS) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ORLOWSKI: I may see this every day, I may, you know, be the chief medical officer of a very large trauma center, but there is something wrong here when we have these multiple shootings, these multiple injuries, there`s something wrong. And the only thing that I think say is we have to work together to get rid of it. I`d like you to put my trauma center out of business. I really would. I would like to not be an expert on gunshots and not be an expert on this - - (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It`s part of the remarkable press conference at about 4:00 eastern this afternoon. That was the chief medical officer at the Washington Hospital Center, where some of the victims of today`s shooting at the Navy Yard received treatment. That doctor`s name is Janet Orlowski, and coincidentally and amazingly, she had given her one-month notice earlier this morning that she was leaving her job. She`s leaving her job as of next month. She had just given her notice when this incident today happened. Dr. Orlowski`s appearance, both in terms of the information she provided and her presence was fairly riveting and moving, and tonight she is going to be the guest of Lawrence O`Donnell on "THE LAST WORD," which is coming up right after our show. We will all be tuning in to hear that and I hope you will, too. Much more still ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Breaking news for you. We have some new information from NBC News`s investigative unit about this ongoing investigation into the mass shooting at the Navy Yard. According to law enforcement sources in Washington, authorities tell NBC News that they have located Aaron Alexis`s rental car in a garage across the street from the building where the shooting occurred. Authorities are in the process of obtaining warrants to search the car and to search the hotel rooms of Aaron Alexis and his fellow contractors at the residence inn where they were reportedly staying in southwest Washington, D.C. These same sources tell NBC News that it appears -- this is about how the incident actually went down and may be getting at some of the difficult questions we`ve been asking about how he got access to this secure facility. The same law enforcement sources in Washington are now telling NBC News that it appears that Aaron Alexis entered the building armed and that one of the first persons who was shot was the security guard at the entrance. It is believed that Mr. Alexis then took the guard`s sidearm and either picked up the assault rifle from a safe/cabinet nearby or the guard was also armed with a long gun. So, as Pete Williams was suggesting earlier this hour, having one weapon when he approached the building, shooting a security guard and taking either one or two guns off of that guard or away from that guard post. Evidence collection team said to be expected on the scene throughout the day tomorrow. They are still determining the number of rounds fired. But again, the two pieces here of information are the reported locating of the rental car in a garage across the street from the building where the shooting happened and at least reports from law enforcement sources in Washington about how accessing the building may have happened, including with those weapons. It was about 2:30 p.m. Eastern today when NBC`s Pete Williams reported that officials had identified the man who allegedly opened fire at the Navy Yard, killed 12 people before he himself was killed. The man is Aaron Alexis, 34 years old. According to his aunts, he grew up in Brooklyn, New York, with his mother and his father and his brother. He had been in the Navy Reserve for about four years. We continue to learn more about him as each hour passes. But here`s the basics of what we know so far. He did serve in the naval reserves, but he was never on active duty. He never deployed to a war zone. He joined up in the spring of 2007 and was out of the naval reserve by 2011. His last posting was at the naval air station in Ft. Worth, Texas. He worked there at the Fleet Logistics Support Squadron. Outside of his time of the Navy, we know of two incidents in which Mr. Alexis was arrested. The first was in 2004, May 2004, in Seattle. He was arrested for shooting out the tires of somebody else`s vehicle. According to the police report, which was released publicly by the Seattle Police Department today, Mr. Alexis would have been roughly 25 years old at the time. He shot out the rear tires of a vehicle that was parked next to his home. The car was parked by construction workers in the driveway of a work site that was next to where he was living. Apparently, they were building a house next door and they were parked at that site. Here`s how the detective in the case explained his confession, quote, "I obtained a post-Miranda confession from Alexis. He explained how he perceived that the construction workers had directed him and how that perception led to what Mr. Alexis described as a blackout fueled by anger. He said he did not remember pulling the trigger of his firearm until about an hour after he did it. Mr. Alexis also told me," says the detective, "how he was present during the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, and how those events had disturbed him." The following morning, the detective says, "I received a personal communication," well, "P/C," I assume that`s personal communication, "from Mr. Alexis`s father, who lives in New York City. I explained to him the facts of the case. Mr. Alexis then told me that his son had experienced anger management problems that the family believed to be associated with PTSD, post- traumatic stress. He confirms that his son was an active participant in rescue attempts on September 11th, 2001. And none of that is confirmed at that point, but that is what is in the Seattle Police Department`s report for that arrest in 2004. Again, of the man who police say was the shooter at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., today. The same man was arrested again in 2010 in Ft. Worth, Texas. That police report from the Ft. Worth police describes an incident in which Mr. Alexis shot a hole through the ceiling of his apartment and the bullet went through the ceiling of his apartment into the floor of the apartment above him. The neighbor in the apartment above him said she was terrified of Mr. Alexis, said he had confronted her in the past about noise in the building, and she said she thought the shooting must have been intentional. Mr. Alexis told police it was an accident, that he was cleaning the gun, didn`t know it was loaded and went off accidentally. He was charged in that case with accidental -- excuse me, with illegal discharge of a firearm. For sometime, Mr. Alexis reportedly worked as a waiter at this Thai restaurant in Ft. Worth, not too far from the naval air station where he used to be stationed. His friends and former employers at the restaurant profess to be mystified as to why he would do something like what he`s accused of today. But the very latest coming in tonight is that Mr. Alexis may have been connected to the Navy currently through a job as a civilian contractor. A spokesman for the Hewlett-Packard Company releasing this statement tonight: "We are deeply saddened by today`s tragic events at the Washington Navy Yard. Our thoughts and sympathies are with all those who have been affected. Aaron Alexis was an employee of a company called The Experts, a subcontractor to an HP Enterprise Services contract to refresh equipment used on the Navy Marine Corps intranet network. HP is cooperating fully with law enforcement as requested." "The Washington Post" is further reporting tonight that Aaron Alexis would have had a government contractor access card allowing him into the navy facility. His security clearance was reportedly updated in July. What else about his background may shed light on why this happened? And maybe more specifically now on how this happened today. Joining us now from Ft. Worth, Texas, is NBC News` Charles Hadlock. Mr. Hadlock, Charles, thanks very much for your time tonight. CHARLES HADLOCK, NBC NEWS: Hi, there. MADDOW: So, what sort of footprint did Aaron Alexis leave in Ft. Worth? What do people there know about him and how are they reacting today? HADLOCK: Well, Rachel, most of his life centered around this place, the happy bowl restaurant here in northwest Ft. Worth. This is where he worked. This is where he met the owner of this restaurant at the Buddhist temple just down the street from here. They became fast friends. They even became roommates for several years. They lived in several different places here in Ft. Worth. And Alexis, Aaron Alexis even worked here as a waiter. He worked so well that he even picked up the language of Thailand and he was pretty fluent in it, according to the people who visited this restaurant. They said he was a friendly guy and a calm guy. And that`s what is so out of character about what happened today. They just can`t seem to reconcile the two facts here. And that`s what is mystifying the people here in Ft. Worth, Rachel. We`ve seen these reports, or we`ve read reference to his family describing anger management problems. We`ve heard reports tonight that he may have been treated for psychological trauma of some kind. His family attributing his anger management problems to possible post-traumatic stress. Is any of that echoed in what you are hearing from people who knew him in Ft. Worth, or is that a totally hidden part of his life? HADLOCK: Yes, it`s a hidden part. All these tidbits of information that you`ve been reporting over the last few minutes, the people here in Ft. Worth are learning virtually for the first time about the man they called their friend. The incidents with the gun in Seattle, the other one here in Ft. Worth, they said they never knew about that. They never knew the severity of it. But one thing a friend did say to us that said looking back on it, it was kind of disturbing, that Alexis was obsessed with online, violent video games, that every time they went over to his apartment or to his house, he was in his room with headphones on, communicating with other people online and playing these very violent games, the types where you have a weapon and you round the corner and shoot not targets but people, and they even halfway joked about it, saying, man, you`re 34 years old, you need to get a life here. And he said, well, this is my life, or words to that effect. He enjoyed playing the video games. Whether that had any affect on his actions today, we just don`t know. MADDOW: Charles, do we know anything about what authorities still want to know about his background and his history, what police are still trying to find out about him? HADLOCK: Well, we know that he was roommates with another man in this, the same shopping area here, after the owner of the Thai restaurant got married, Alexis had to move out and he had to find another roommate. And KXAS TV is on the scene of that roommate`s house. They knocked on the door and the FBI answered. So, they`re trying to get some answers from the man as well. So, it`s an unfolding story here in Ft. Worth about just who Aaron Alexis was. MADDOW: NBC News` Charles Hadlock reporting from Ft. Worth. Charles, thank you so much for being with us. I appreciate your time tonight, thanks. HADLOCK: Sure. MADDOW: All right. More to come on today`s mass shooting at the D.C. Navy Yard, plus lots more. Please stay with us. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CMDR. TIM JIRUS, U.S. NAVY: An individual who came from the building behind us, I mean, this building. He came up and was talking to me, basically saying, hey, there`s a shooter in your building. Then I heard two more shots. One of them hit him. He went down in front of me and I took off from there. REPORTER: The guy you were with? JIRUS: The guy I was talking to. REPORTER: Got shot? JIRUS: Correct. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Just so you know what`s going on right now, we are awaiting a press conference that is due to start soon from law enforcement in Washington, D.C. Obviously, everybody is covering this story as aggressively as we all can today, but to be honest, in live, ongoing investigations like this, we are often getting the most specific, confirmed, concrete information about what is really going on from these official press conferences. They`ve happened every couple of hours throughout the day today. We know that the FBI is taking the lead on this case. The next one is just a few minutes. You see them getting the podium ready for it there. We`re told that we`re going to be hearing from them at the top of the hour at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. So, stay tuned for that. We`ll have that live right here. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: On the morning of September 6th, 1949, a 28-year-old local man in Camden, New Jersey, left his house and started walking up and down River Road in his neighborhood, the neighborhood where he lived, and he started shooting people. He was armed with a Luger pistol that he bought as a war souvenir. He shot the man who ran the pharmacy, he shot a little kid, he shot the newlywed wife of the local tailor. He killed 13 people that day, September 6th, 1949. At the time, the Camden walk of death was considered the worst mass murder in our nation`s history. One survivor speaking 50 years later told the reporter, my memories do not dim. Do you know how many times in 50 years I have relived that story? That killer from Camden, New Jersey, was considered unfit for trial. He was considered to be too insane, so he was never tried for that mass killing in New Jersey. He spent the rest of his life confined to a secure mental facility. And ultimately, he died just a few years ago. That massacre in Camden, New Jersey, is the earliest one on a list of the dozen deadliest mass shootings in the United States. These are only the worst, with the highest death tolls -- mass killings where at least 12 people died not including the shooter, going back to Camden, New Jersey, in 1949. American mass shootings are a frequent enough occurrence now that they have almost become a regular part of our news expectations. We think of the stories almost as the kinds of stories we already know the terrible details. Oh, I know how this is going to go. But they have not always been as frequent as they are now. After the 1949 shooting, the next big one does not happen until nearly two decades later, in 1966, when a gunman climbed to the bell tower at the University of Texas and shot 16 people to death before he was killed by police. It was nearly two decades after that that we got the next entry on the list, when a shooter killed 21 people at a McDonald`s in San Isidro, California. That was 1984. Right after that, 1986, our nation suffered the worst in a string of post office massacres, 14 dead plus the gunman in Edmond, Oklahoma. But look at the overall frequency across time as we chart it here. Again, these are only the worst incidents where the gunmen killed at least 12 other people. After that post office shooting, we get the Luby`s Cafeteria massacre in Killeen, Texas, the gunman killing 23 people and then himself that day in 1991. Here, we have the massacre at Columbine high school in Littleton, Colorado, where two students killed 12 classmates and a teacher and then killed themselves. That brings us to 1999. So, you can see, we are now half way through the list of the dozen worst mass shootings in U.S. history, and it has taken us 50 years to get there. These are terrible events with at least a dozen people killed. It takes us half a century to do half of them. And the other half begins here, in 2007 at Virginia Tech, when a student armed with a pair of semiautomatic weapons killed 32 people before taking his own life. That was April 2007. In 2009, we had a pair of mass shooting shootings. In Binghamton, New York, it was a former student at an immigration center who killed 13 people and then himself. Just seven months later, it was an army psychiatrist who opened fire at the soldier readiness processing center at Fort Hood in Texas, killing 13 people in what he later described as an act of war. Last month, he was convicted and sentenced to death for those murders in 2009. But these things are coming faster now. In 2012, the nation again suffered not one but two of the worst massacres in our history. July 2012, a deranged young man goes into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and starts shooting, using multiple guns and an ammunition magazine that held 100 bullets. He killed 12 people that night. He wounded 70 others. Five months later, on December 14th, the single gunman walks into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, with multiple weapons and high capacity magazines. He kills 20 kids and six adults at the school, plus his mom at home before the attack and then he kills himself. And then today, the newest entry on the awful list of worst mass killings in America, as 12 people are shot and killed, not including the alleged gunman who was found dead at the scene, 12 people today killed at the U.S. Navy Yard in DC. All of these are terrible stories taken individually, unimaginable terrible. But put them together and remember the first half of that list, that awful list is scattered across half a century like this. Each of these killings cost the nation simply untellable grief. The kind of pain where witnesses are still not recovered 50 years later and they were the ones who survived. But, look at this -- the first half of this awful list happens across half a century. The rest of it, the other half dozen of the worst killings in our history, takes only half a dozen years from 2007 until now, until today, from Virginia Tech to the Navy Yard. The bloodshed of half a century compressed into this blink of time. It took us 50 years to get from here to here. It took us only six years to get from here to here. A professor at the University of Maryland first charted this for us after the shooting at Newtown. At the time, Professor Charles Quitana (ph) said if you look at the way it added up, this was probably the scariest data he had ever plotted. And that was before today when 12 more people were killed. We know very little so far about what happened today in that Navy Yard. Taken as a whole, the list of worst mass shootings in America has almost as many so-called explanations as it has entries. In many cases, the shooter was mentally ill. In at least one the shooter seems to be at least partly politically/religiously motivated. Sometimes the shooter`s friends and relatives saw warning signs. Sometimes there seems to have been no warning, or almost no warning. We have long been mystified when it comes to understanding the motivations of the super violent and we seem just as mystified now about how to stop them in the first place. Whether or not you like the idea of additional gun regulations, if you thought that Newtown, or Aurora, or Columbine before that was going to lead to meaningful national policy changes to at least try to stop these incidents, if you thought, for example, that they might affect the regulation of firearms and ammunition, maybe even just as they relate to mental illness, you are still waiting for those changes. But if you have been thinking that we live in an era that is more marked by this type of mass bloodshed than any era before now, then I am sad to tell you that you are right. It did not used to be this way. But more and more, over time, this is part of how we live now. That does it for us tonight. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Have a good night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END