The shooting spree executed by Aaron Alexis at the Washington, D.C., Naval Yard on Sept. 16 has given rise to a dizzying host of questions. Among them are those of Alexis’ questionable mental capacity, the Navy’s failure to take precautions despite having been warned of his alleged mental incapacity, the security of the Navy Yard and military installations across the country, Alexis’ access to firearms after having been involved in firearms-related altercations, his arrest record and many others.
Then there is the question of the troubled ex-reservist and civilian contractor’s motivation for entering the facility on Monday morning, then 12 twelve people and wounding eight others before being neutralized by police. This question becomes more confusing the more that is added to the narrative. It was reported that Alexis’ military career itself was catalyzed by his anger at the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. While his father reportedly told police that Alexis participated in rescue operations at Ground Zero (he would have been 22 at the time), there is no evidence that this occurred, although he was employed within eye-shot of the Twin Towers when they were destroyed. He is also purported to have claimed that he’d suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of having witnessed the carnage of that day.