The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

September 17, 2013

DEATH & PANIC IN HEART OF DC

Gunman in Washington Navy Yard shooting was in Navy Reserves

Aaron Alexis seems a study in contradictions: a former Navy reservist, a Defense Department contractor, a convert to Buddhism who was taking an online course in aeronautics. But he also had flashes of temper that led to run-ins with police over shootings in Fort Worth, Texas, and Seattle.

A profile began to emerge Monday of the man authorities identified as the gunman in a mass shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., that left 13 people dead, including the 34-year-old man. While some neighbors and acquaintances described him as “nice,” his father once told detectives in Seattle that his son had anger management problems related to post-traumatic stress brought on by the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

At the time of the shootings, he worked for The Experts, a subcontractor on an HP Enterprise Services contract to refresh equipment used on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet network.

His life over the past decade has been checkered.

Alexis lived in Seattle in 2004 and 2005, according to public documents. In 2004, Seattle police said Alexis was arrested for shooting out the tires of another man’s vehicle in what he later described to detectives as an anger-fueled “blackout.” According to an account on the department’s website, two construction workers had parked their Honda Accord in the driveway of their worksite, next to a home where Alexis was staying. The workers reported seeing a man, later identified by police as Alexis, walk out of the home next to their worksite, pull a gun from his waistband and fire three shots into the rear tires of their Honda before he walked slowly back to his home.

When detectives interviewed workers at the construction site, they told police Alexis had stared at construction workers at the job site daily for several weeks prior to the shooting. The owner of the construction business told police he believed Alexis was angry over the parking situation around the site.

Police eventually arrested Alexis, searched his home, found a gun and ammunition in his room, and booked him into the King County Jail for malicious mischief.

According to the police account, Alexis told detectives he perceived he had been “mocked” by construction workers the morning of the incident. Alexis also claimed he had an anger-fueled “blackout,” and could not remember firing his gun at the Honda until an hour after the incident.

Alexis also told police he was present during “the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001” and described “how those events had disturbed him.”

Then, on May 5, 2007, he enlisted in the Navy reserves, serving through 2011, according to Navy spokeswoman Lt. Megan Shutka.

Shutka said he received the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal during his stint in the reserves. Both are medals issued to large numbers of service members who served abroad and in the United States since the 9/11 attacks. Alexis’ last assignment was as aviation electricians mate 3rd class at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Shutka said.

It was while he was still in the reserves that a neighbor in Fort Worth reported she had been nearly struck by a bullet shot from his downstairs apartment.

In September 2010, Fort Worth police questioned Alexis about the neighbor’s report; he admitted to firing his weapon but said he was cleaning his gun when it accidentally discharged. He said he didn’t call the police because he didn’t think the bullet went through to the other apartment. The neighbor told police she was scared of Alexis and felt he fired intentionally because he had complained about her making too much noise.

Alexis was arrested on suspicion of discharging a firearm within city limits but Tarrant County district attorney’s spokeswoman Melody McDonald Lanier said the case was not pursued after it was determined the gun discharged accidentally.

After leaving the reserves, Alexis worked as a waiter and delivery driver at the Happy Bowl Thai restaurant in White Settlement, a suburb of Fort Worth, according to Afton Bradley, a former co-worker. The two overlapped for about eight months before Alexis left in May, Bradley said.

Having traveled to Thailand, Alexis learned some Thai and could speak to Thai customers in their native language.

A former acquaintance, Oui Suthametewakul, said Alexis lived with him and his wife from August 2012 to May 2013 in Fort Worth, but that they had to part ways because he wasn’t paying his bills. Alexis was a “nice guy,” Suthametewakul said, though he sometimes carried a gun and would frequently complain about being the victim of discrimination.

Suthametewakul said Alexis had converted to Buddhism and prayed at a local Buddhist temple.

“We are all shocked. We are nonviolent. Aaron was a very good practitioner of Buddhism. He could chant better than even some of the Thai congregants,” said Ty Thairintr, a congregant at Wat Budsaya, a Buddhist temple in Fort Worth.

Thairintr said Alexis told him he was upset with the Navy because “he thought he never got a promotion because of the color of his skin. He hated his commander.”

As Thairintr and others at the temple understood, Alexis took a job as a contractor and he indicated to them he was going to go to Virginia. He last saw him five weeks ago.

“He was a very devoted Buddhist. There was no tell-tale sign of this behavior,” Thairintr said.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • james wyman.jpg BEAT OF HIS OWN DRUM Lakeside graduate is right at home as timpanist with Baltimore Symphony Symphony

    It was a Tuesday morning in Baltimore not unlike many days here in Ashtabula County this past winter. The weather was the story of the day. Talk of wind chill, snow advisories and reports of delays and cancellations filled the topic of conversation in this East Coast city.
    James Wyman, however was still able to get to work though. Well, kind of, that is.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • db monday Sunrise Service.jpg Local churches celebrate at sunrise

    People of all ages gathered at Oakdale Cemetery at the break of dawn Sunday to celebrate at Easter sunrise service.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • monday APL pic.jpg Donate-to-win will aid shelter

    The Ashtabula County Animal Protective League reports that it started 2013 nearly $60,000 in debt, but finished the year “in the black by nearly $10,000” and reduced expenses by roughly $5,000.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Madison man dies in motorcycle crash

    The Ohio State Highway Patrol Chardon Post is investigating a fatal accident between a car and a motorcycle that collided Saturday morning.
    Lee E. Mullins, 57, of Madison was traveling southbound on State Route 528, on a 2000 Suzuki motorcycle, approaching the intersection of St. Rt. 86, when a 2008 Ford Taurus driven by 36-year-old Kimberly J. Baney of Wampum, Pa. failed to yield at the stop sign entering the intersection.

    April 21, 2014

  • Spring is a time of renewal

    Spring is a time of renewal. A time for the ground to warm and the bulbs to bloom. Trees clothe themselves with a new coat of leaves.

    April 21, 2014

  • wd sunday race 1 .jpg Mad Hatters tradition continues with Metroparks

    Mexican sombreros, large cardboard cars and multi-colored hats were just a few of the unique headgear possibilities used by the more than 200 participants in the Grand River Canoe and Kayak Race on Saturday morning.

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • wd sunday lakegg 12 .jpg Lake Shore Park Easter egg hunt draws hundreds

    Eight thousand eggs littered a portion of the parking lot at Lake Shore Park on Saturday afternoon as hundreds of children lined up to take their run at a full container of candy.
     

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • wd sunday eggstrava 4 .jpg ADDA brings Easter fun to Ashtabula area children

    Children took advantage of the opportunity to hang out with the Easter bunny and have their faces painted on Saturday afternoon at Lance Cpl. Kevin M. Cornelius Park.
     

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_7651.jpg School property could be given to N. Kingsville

    When North Kingsville Elementary School becomes a memory this summer, the property could be reborn as a village park, officials said.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • wd saturday drug raid 2 .jpg Good Friday raid nets drugs, dogs and money in Ashtabula

    It was not a “Good Friday” for two West 38th Street residents.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

Canoe Race and Ashtabula Easter Events
Good Friday Cross Walks and Easter Egg Hunts
Spring Comes Alive
Ashtabula Spring Cleaning
The Taping of the Teacher: A sticky Sitation
Saturday Fun in Ashtabula County March 22, 2014
American Red Cross Ashtabula County Heroes Breakfast
Rotary Club Dodge Ball Tournament
18th Annual Polar Bear Plunge at Geneva State Park
End of year weather extremes
Christmas 2013
Harpersfield Barn Fire
Route 11 Rescue Plymouth Township
Ashtabula Fire
House Ads
AP Video
NDN Video
Lindsay Lohan Reveals She Had Miscarriage in Reality Show Finale ET Presents The Summer Movie Preview Teen hitchhikes in wheel well of flight from California to Hawaii Marathoners Celebrate Easter With Tradition Celebs Share Their Easter Fun Hundreds Gather for Denver Pot Rally on Easter Lauren Stoner Shows Off Her Incredible Bikini Body At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Dr. Phil Put In The Hot Seat By His Own Wife Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend