The Pentagon Says the Navy Yard Shooting Could Have Been Prevented

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 18 2014 2:37 PM

The Pentagon Says the Navy Yard Shooting Could Have Been Prevented

Aaron Alexis poses for a mug shot after being arrested on September 4, 2010 for discharging a firearm inside city limits, a Class A misdemeanor in Fort Worth

Photo by Fort Worth Police Department via Getty Images

Last year's Navy Yard shooting was preventable, according to a newly released internal review by the Pentagon that found "missed opportunities for intervention" that might have been able to prevent Aaron Alexis' Sept. 16 spree that killed 12.

Chief among those missed opportunities were a number of potential red flags about Alexis' health and behavior that either went unnoticed or unreported by his superiors, including what the Defense Department described as a "pattern of misconduct and disturbing behavior." Here's the Politico Pro with the broad strokes from the report:

[Adm. John] Richardson’s investigation found that, with hindsight, there were many warning signs about Alexis. He’d been arrested several times and gotten into trouble during an undistinguished stint as an enlisted sailor. Alexis’s supervisors at HP’s subcontractor, The Experts, where he went to work after getting out of the Navy, noted several examples of bizarre or paranoid behavior.
At one point, Alexis took apart a hotel bed because he believed someone was hiding under it, and taped a microphone to the ceiling “to record the voices of the people that were following him.” And Alexis told police officers with Naval Station Newport, R.I., that he believed he had a chip in his head and mentioned “microwave signals.”

Alexis troubled history began even before he joined the Navy in 2007 with multiple traffic tickets and, more notably, an arrest for shooting out the tires of a construction worker. Things didn't get much better after he was accepted in the Navy either: He was arrested for disorderly conduct, disciplined by the Navy for drunken behavior, and arrested for shooting a gun at his apartment.

According to the Washington Post, in the wake of the report Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is now calling for a "continuous evaluation system" to screen federal employees with security clearances to better spot potential problems.

Kelly Tunney is a Slate intern in New York City.


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