Society

Navy Yard Shooter Aaron Alexis Had History Of Gun Offenses, Mental Health Problems

| by Jonathan Wolfe
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New information on the personal history of Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis continues to be uncovered.

Two findings from the past 24 hours are particularly noteworthy: his history of gun-related offenses and his mental health history. Let’s take a look at each.

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Gun Offenses:

Alexis has had two run-ins with the law involving his use of a firearm. In 2004, he received misdemeanor charges of property damage and discharge of a firearm after he shot out the tires of a car in what Alexis described as an anger-fueled “blackout.”  Here’s what the Seattle Police Department had to say about the incident:

“Following his arrest, Alexis told detectives he perceived he had been “mocked” by construction workers the morning of the incident and said they had “disrespected him.” Alexis also claimed he had an anger-fueled “blackout,” and could not remember firing his gun at the victim’s vehicle until an hour after the incident.”

In 2010, Alexis was arrested again for using a firearm improperly. Alexis was arrested after he shot a hole through the ceiling of his apartment and into the apartment of the neighbor living above him. Alexis did not check on the neighbor to see if she was hit by the bullet. When police arrived at the apartment, Alexis’ told them he fired his gun on accident. Yet several days before shooting into her apartment, Alexis’ neighbor says the man approached her in the parking and complained that she was making too much noise.

No formal charges were filed against Alexis for this offense.

Mental Health:

In recent months, Alexis began receiving treatment for paranoia and a sleep disorder. Alexis reported hearing voices in his head and believed people living above him were sending vibrations through his apartment ceiling that were keeping him awake. On August 7th, Alexis called Rhode Island police and told them that he believed three people were following him and trying to hurt him.

He also told police that three people communicated with him through the walls, floors, and ceilings of his room using microwaves to send vibrations. In retrospect, it is clear that Alexis was dealing with severe mental health problems.

Though the FBI checks an applicant’s mental health history during gun-purchase background checks, only one percent of applicant’s fail the background check for this cause. Alexis purchased his shotgun used in yesterday’s shooting before receiving mental health treatment, and thus did not fail the background check.

As for his past gun offenses, the FBI only forbids someone from purchasing a gun if they have been "convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.” Alexis did not serve time in prison for either of his gun incidents. 

Sources: The Atlantic Wire, Telegraph, NBC