On September 16, a shooting in the Washington Navy Yard, located a few miles away from the White House, resulted in the death of 13 people, including the shooter himself.
The gunman, Aaron Alexis, was a 34-year-old government contractor who was prompted by delusions of being controlled by low frequency radio waves. Alexis was a contractor in information technology for Experts IT, a Hewlett-Packard subcontractor, who has access to the Washington Navy Yard.
He went to the Sea Systems Command headquarters in Building 197 at around 8:00 AM. After shooting 2 people outside, he entered the building, and went into the bathroom with a backpack and a clipboard. He left the bathroom with a gun, and shot down at employees who were eating breakfast. Later, the backpack was found on the back of a bathroom stall door, with a roll of purple duct tape inside. None of the victims seemed to be specifically targeted, and no active duty military personnel were killed. All of the victims were either civilians or contractors, and 8 people were injured.
Alexis was found with 3 weapons when the police shot him in a cubicle on the third floor. An on-going Navy investigation is seeing how Alexis managed to smuggle weapons and ammunition into a Navy base. The police weren’t sure if he was working alone, and for hours, believed that there were 2 other gunmen involved who were still somewhere in Washington DC. This confusion led to the lockdown of the Senate complex and the postponement of to Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves game. However, the police found out that Alexis had been acting alone, ending the tension in DC.
The FBI categorized this shooting as a criminal investigation, and ruled out terrorism. Alexis has had a violent past, with a discharge from the Navy for having a “pattern of misbehavior” in 2011, getting arrested for discharging a firearm, and shooting the tires of someone’s vehicle in 2004. The FBI posted pictures of Alexis and a video of him pointing his gun in an empty hallway, asking the public for help in searching for his motive. This was later discovered through documents on his laptop and phone, and etchings on his gun. These indicate that he was prepared to die, and knew that it was a consequence. Alexis thought that he was being controlled by extremely low frequency electromagnetic waves, which are part from conspiracy theories of government mind control. On his gun, “not what y’all say”, “better off this way”, and “My ELF weapon!” were etched.
Navy yard workers sought counseling, which is provided by a civilian team, a Navy psychiatric rapid response team, and a team of therapy dogs.
Among the victims is 52-year-old security guard Mike Ridgell, who died while trying to stop Alexis from leaving the building. He was laid to rest on September 28, and will be remembered, along with the 11 other victims.