No One Acted on Clues to Navy Yard Shooter Instability Over 9 Years


Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis's erratic and violent behavior was ignored, overlooked or dismissed for nine years by police, the military, the Department of Veterans Affairs and his employer–a series of missed opportunities that might have stopped him, reports the Washington Post. The warning signs were stark but never detected or communicated among agencies, allowing him to move freely around military bases with a secret-level security clearance. He was arrested three times in three states for rash, inexplicable violence. In three other states, he was cited by police for aggression or hallucinations. Twice, medical staff at swamped Veterans Health Administration emergency rooms in Providence, R.I., and Washington, D.C., failed to pick up on his deteriorating mental stability, despite new protocols designed to screen for it.

Alexis's employer, an IT company called the Experts, was so concerned about his increasingly agitated state over the summer that it called his mother and sent him home to rest, but it did not share concerns with the Navy. His outbursts never made it into a national database that would have notified police among different jurisdictions and turned up in background checks for gun purchases, enlisting in the military or obtaining a mid-level secret security clearance. “The VA missed the diagnosis. Twice,” said retired Gen. Stephen Xenakis, a military psychiatrist and former adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “And that's not the only shortfall.”

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