September 16, 2013

Navy Yard suspect arrested in '04 Seattle shooting

The Associated Press

SEATTLE — The man identified as the shooter in the Washington Navy Yard slayings had been arrested in Seattle in 2004 for shooting out the tires of a parked car in what he described as an anger-fueled "black out."

click image to enlarge

These images released by the FBI show photos of Aaron Alexis, who police believe was a gunman at the Washington Navy Yard shooting in Washington, Monday morning, Sept. 16, 2013, and who was killed after he fired on a police officer. At least one gunman launched an attack inside the Washington Navy Yard, spraying gunfire on office workers in the cafeteria and in the hallways at the heavily secured military installation in the heart of the nation's capital, authorities said. The photo at left is from 2011. (AP Photo/FBI)

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Two construction workers building a new home told police that Aaron Alexis walked out of a home next door on May 6, 2004, pulled a pistol from his waistband and fired three shots into the rear tires of their parked car.

Alexis later told police he thought the victims had "disrespected him" and "mocked him" earlier that morning after he discovered that his own vehicle had been tampered with. Alexis also told detectives he didn't remember firing his weapon until about an hour later, according to the police report.

Seattle police said in a statement Monday that detectives later spoke with Alexis' father, who told police Alexis had anger management problems associated with PTSD, and had participated in rescue attempts on Sept. 11th, 2001.

When police interviewed the construction workers and manager in 2004, they told police Alexis had "stared at the construction workers every morning for about 30 days prior to the shooting." The owner of the construction business said he believed Alexis was angry over the parking problem outside the construction site, Seattle police said.

Alexis was booked into King County Jail on June 3, 2004, after making several attempts to find him, police records show.

Court records show he had a hearing and was released on the condition he not have contact with any of the construction workers. A message left for the attorney who represented him at that hearing, Raymond Connell, was not immediately returned.

Seattle police said Monday the case was referred to Seattle Municipal Court for charges of property damage and discharge of a firearm.

There's no record that he was ever prosecuted, and a spokeswoman for the Seattle City Attorney's Office, Kimberly Mills, said Monday that her office never received the report from police so did not review it for possible charges.

According to public documents, Alexis lived in Seattle in 2004 and 2005. He voted in 2004, and received several traffic violations in the Seattle area.

Nobody answered the door Monday afternoon at a home in south Seattle where Alexis lived at the time. The home is near the end of a dead-end street that backs up against Interstate 5, sits under heavy airplane traffic and is across from a park marred by graffiti.

Neighbors said two older women lived in the home. Juan Martinez, 32, lives next door and said he has had brief, friendly encounters with his neighbors but hasn't seen any male relatives at the home or heard of them mentioned. He's lived in the area for five years.

 

Friend says suspected shooter 'didn't seem agrgressive'

Police say they do not have a motive for Monday's the shootings that left 13 people dead, including Alexis, who lived in Fort Worth, Texas.

Nutpisit Suthamtewakul, owner of Happy Bowl Thai in White Settlement, a Fort Worth suburb, said Alexis was “my best friend.”

“He lived with me three years,” Suthamtewakul said Monday afternoon. “I don’t think he’d do this. He has a gun, but I don’t think he’s that stupid. He didn’t seem aggressive to me.”

Alexis was working for a computer contractor, Suthamtewakul said.

Records show that Alexis was arrested in September 2010 for discharging a firearm within a municipality.

According to a Fort Worth police report, police had been dispatched to the Oak Hills apartments about 6:40 p.m. Sept 4, 2010, on a report that someone had fired a shot through the floor and into the ceiling of a woman’s apartment.

The woman told police she had been sitting in a chair when she heard a loud pop and saw dust.

“She then saw that there was a hole in her floor just a couple of feet from where she was sitting while shredding papers and a hole in the ceiling,” the report states. “She told me that she believed someone had shot a bullet through her apartment.”

The woman told police that Alexis, her downstairs neighbor, did not come up to check on her after the shooting. She said Alexis had called police on her several times in the past for “being loud” but that police never heard anything and therefore, no action was taken.

“She said that several days ago Aaron confronted her in the parking lot about making too much noise,” the report states.

The woman told police that she was “terrified” of Alexis and felt the shooting was done intentionally.

The report states police attempted to contact Alexis at his apartment but received no response.

Fearing someone could be hurt, police had called the fire department to the scene to attempt to force entry into the man’s apartment. When firefighters arrived on the scene, however, Alexis came outside voluntarily and told officers he had been cleaning his gun when it went off.

“He said that he was trying to clean his gun while cooking and that his hands were slippery. He told me that he began to take the gun apart when his hands slipped and pulled the trigger, discharging a round into the ceiling,” the report states.

“When asked why he didn’t call police or go check on the resident above him, Aaron said that he didn’t think it went all the way through since he couldn’t see any light through the hole,” the report states.

Alexis told police he thought people would dismiss the noise as a firecracker.

“I think asked why he wouldn’t answer the door when I knocked and he said that he thought it was just his upstairs neighbor and he didn’t want to talk to her because she is always making noise,” the report states.

Police observed the dismantled, oil-covered gun in the apartment with a gun cleaning kit nearby, the report states.

Police arrested Alexis at the scene on suspicion of discharging a firearm in a municipality. He was released from jail the next day, Tarrant County records show, and was never formally charged in the case.

The Orion at Oak Hill apartments in Fort Worth began eviction efforts against Alexis later in September 2010. Records show that he moved from the Oak Hill apartments in December 2010.

Alexis, whose most recent address was 7940 White Settlement Road in Fort Worth, had not lived there for six to eight months, said his landlord, Somsak Srisan.

“Oh boy, I can’t believe this,” Srisan said. “He was always very polite to me.”

Srisan believed Alexis lived alone at the White Settlement house.

“When he lived at my house, I never see him get angry about anything,” Srisan said. “My feeling is if he was angry about anything, he didn’t show that to me.”

He had seen Alexis meditate and said he always remained calm around him.

“I can’t believe he would do anything like this,” Srisan said. “He always behaved well around me.”

He had previously lived in Flushing, N.Y., from 2000 to 2002. It is unclear where he lived from 2002 until he moved to Fort Worth.

-- From McClatchy newspapers

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