Naval Yard shootings blamed on the Navy and an outside contractor company. Coworkers, supervisors and associates of Aaron Alexis raised concerns about his mental health a month before the Washington Naval Yard shooter who killed 12 people in September 2013. Those concerns were not reported to government agencies according to a recently released Navy investigation. If Alexis’s employer had contacted and expressed their concerns about his mental state, Alexis’ access to the base would have been denied, pending an investigation, and the Naval Yard shootings avoided.
On September 16, 2013, Alexis entered Naval Yard Building 197 with a shotgun and murdered 12 people before police killed him. Security procedures at the Naval Yard facility near downtown Washington were deemed insufficient. The central finding of the government report indicated that Alexis’ employer, a Fort Lauderdale, FL technology contractor known as The Experts, opted not to inform the government of adverse mental, emotional, and personality conditions concerning Alexis. The company had knowledge from Alexis’s coworkers of personal issues that made him harmful to others and could have at least suspended his access to the Naval Yard pending an investigation.
Defense Secretary Hagel ordered changes to Pentagon policies in light of the report’s findings. Those changes include automated checks of all personnel accessing classified information on military facilities and recommended an Insider Threat Management and Analysis Center to study potential threats. Hagel stated that societies that are open and free will face vulnerabilities that must be addressed in order to keep its facilities safe.
The Naval Yard shootings blamed on the Navy and an outside contractor company focused on Alexis’ mental state. His strange behavior became apparent to his supervisors and to the Navy when Alexis traveled from Virginia to Rhode Island in August 2013. At the Navy Gateway Inns & Suites, a hotel clerk asked police to investigate Alexis after he assaulted someone. While at the hotel, Alexis disassembled his bed, convinced someone was hiding under it. Alexis also taped a microphone to the ceiling to record what he believed to be the voices of people following him. Alexis also complained about a chip being planted in his head.
Officials at The Experts contacted Alexis’s mother and coworkers concerning his odd behavior. Their conclusion was that the stories reported about Alexis were nothing more than rumors. Based on the information Alexis’ superiors at The Expert collected, they concluded no report should be filed with Navy on the basis that if something without firm facts was not submitted to support the case, Alexis would have the grounds to sue for violating his privacy.
The report also faulted the Navy for not properly monitoring Alexis who was a retired sailor working at one of their bases as a contractor. If the Navy and The Export followed proper procedures and began an investigation, the chain of events leading to the Navy Yard shootings may have been avoided.
Paul Stockton, an independent reviewer of the shooting, stated inside threats must focus on protecting a military facility and providing security for those who work there. The efforts to build adequate fences and security parameters must also include a check of the people who access those buildings. Far too many contractors have security clearances and once a clearance is assigned, the need for regular follow ups must occur. If there are questions concerning a person’s mental capacities, such people need to be observed and suspended if warranted. The Naval Yard shootings blamed on the Navy and an outside contractor company could have been averted if people followed up on the strange events observed about Aaron Alexis.
By Brian T. Yates