Moral Low Ground


13 Killed in Washington Navy Yard Shooting Rampage; Gunman ID’ed as Aaron Alexis

Aaron Alexis (Photo: FBI)

Aaron Alexis (Photo: FBI)

Thirteen people, including an alleged gunman, are dead following a Monday morning shooting rampage at Washington Navy Yard in the southeastern part of the nation’s capital.

Multiple media outlets have identified the gunman– with reports of a possible second shooter— as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, a New York City native and Navy veteran working as a civilian contractor, an aviation electrician’s mate third class. The Washington Times reports Alexis stole a military ID card to gain access to the Navy Yard. USA Today reports Alexis was shot dead by police officers responding to the shooting rampage.

The names of the victims have not yet been released.

Police are reportedly searching for a second possible suspect, described as a black male in his 40s with grey sideburns wearing an olive drab military-style uniform.

According to the US Navy, shots were first fired at around 8:20 this morning in the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters building, which houses around 3,000 employees. Workers were just settling into their Monday morning routines when the sound of gunfire rang out.

“I thought maybe it was a suicide, we’ve had a couple of those in the last few months. One guy jumped off the fourth floor garage,” base employee Anthony Salemi told the Washington Post. “Then, immediately, I heard someone yell ‘call 9-1-1,’ and I knew it was a shooting.”

A floor below him, retired Navy Captain Mark Vandroff also heard the gunshots.

“After that, people started screaming, close the doors, close the doors,” Vandroff told the Post.

Navy Commander Tim Jirus told reporters he witnessed a man get shot in the head.

“We were standing in the alley,” Jirus said. “[The victim] told me there was a shooter in our building… I heard two more gunshots and he went down while I was talking to him.”

It was reported that around a dozen people were injured in the shooting. MedStar Washington Hospital Center Chief Medical Officer Janis Orlowski told reporters late Monday afternoon that three victims of the Navy Yard shooting were being treated at the facility and that all three were in stable condition. One police officer was seriously injured in his lower extremities and is undergoing complex surgery but is expected to make a “good recovery,” Orlowski said.

Authorities issued a “shelter in place” order for Navy Yard personnel. At least six area schools were also placed on precautionary lockdown.

Washington, DC Mayor Vincent C. Gray said at a Monday afternoon news conference that authorities do not yet know what motivated Alexis.

Most recently, Alexis lived in Texas. A monks’ assistant at the Wat Busayadhammavanaram Meditation Center, the Buddhist temple in Fort Worth where Alexis often came to meditate, described the alleged shooter as apparently “very aggressive” on the inside.

“He would help people if they came in carrying heavy things,” the assistant, J. Sirun, told the Washington Post. “From the outside, he was a quiet person. But on the inside, I think he was very aggressive. He did not like to be close with anybody, like a soldier who has been at war.”

“I didn’t think he could be this violent,” Sirun added. “I would not have been surprised to hear he had committed suicide. But I didn’t think he could commit murder.”

The Seattle Times reports Alexis was arrested by police in that city in 2004 for shooting out the tires of another man’s vehicle in what Alexis described to detectives as an “anger-fueled blackout.”

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