Investigators Look for Motive in Navy Yard Shooting

An officer, right, checks an I.D. outside of the closed Washington Navy Yard in Washington, on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, the day after a gunman launched a deadly attack inside the Washington Navy Yard on Monday.
Authorities are questioning how a U.S. military contractor with a history of violence and mental problems could have gotten clearance to enter a Navy base in Washington where he killed 12 people Monday before police shot him dead.

Aaron Alexis Bio Box

Aaron Alexis

  • Born in New York City in 1979

  • Last known to have lived in Fort Worth, Texas
  • IT worker for The Experts, employed on a Navy project
  • Full-time U.S. Navy reservist from 2007 until his 2011 discharge

  • Arrested, but not charged, for gun-related offenses in 2010 and 2004

Police say they have found no motive for 34-year-old Aaron Alexis' shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard. They also say they have found no evidence of a connection to international terrorism, or any political or religious motivation for his actions.

Alexis had clearance to enter the base despite two gun-related brushes with the law, and he had been discharged from the U.S. Navy Reserve two years earlier after a series of misconduct issues.

News reports say investigators found Alexis had paranoia, a sleep disorder and was hearing voices. He had been treated since August by the Veterans Administration for his mental problems.

Recent Mass Shootings in the United States

Recent US Mass Shootings

  • September 2013: Gunman kills 12 people at a naval facility in Washington before dying in a gun battle with police
  • December 2012: Gunman kills 26 adults and children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut before killing himself
  • July 2012: Gunman kills 12 people during showing of Batman movie in Colorado
  • January 2011: Gunman kills six people and wounds U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona
  • November 2009: U.S. Army psychiatrist kills 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas
  • April 2007: Virginia Tech student kills 32 people before committing suicide
  • April 1999: Two Columbine High School students kill 12 students, one teacher and themselves in Colorado
Early Tuesday, U.S. senators remembered the victims with a prayer and a moment of silence. Later, at the Navy Memorial near the U.S. Capitol, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray and other senior officials placed a wreath honoring the men and women who were gunned down.

Alexis opened fire Monday on employees of the Naval Sea Systems Command, using a shotgun and a handgun he is believed to have taken from a wounded security officer.

In addition to the dead, eight people were hurt in Monday's incident. All are expected to survive.

Police released the identities of seven of those killed late Monday, with their ages ranging from the late 40s to early 70s.

Alexis is a New York City native and a resident of Fort Worth, Texas. News outlets say Alexis had been arrested in two previous shooting incidents, in 2004 in Seattle and in Fort Worth in 2010.

Late Monday, grieving residents gathered outside the Naval Yard and held a silent candlelight vigil.

President Barack Obama has ordered all flags across the country to fly at half-staff through sunset Friday to honor the victims.