One Navy official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Alexis was discharged in January 2011 for “a pattern of misconduct” and that the 2010 gun incident in Texas played a role in his departure.
But Alexis, 34, had no trouble landing a civilian job. He moved from Fort Worth to Washington about a month ago, friends said, and was hired as an hourly tech employee for The Experts, a Hewlett-Packard subcontractor that is updating computer systems at Navy and Marine Corps installations worldwide. He was scheduled to begin work at the Washington Navy Yard this month.
Those who knew Alexis in recent years describe him as a “sweet and intelligent guy” (a regular customer at the Thai restaurant where he had been a waiter) and “a good boy” (his landlord), but also as “very aggressive,” someone who seemed as though he might one day kill himself (a lay worker at the Buddhist temple where Alexis worshiped).
That angry streak flared often enough to create an arrest record in three states.
In 2004, Alexis was arrested in Seattle after he fired three shots from a Glock pistol into the tires of a Honda Accord that two construction workers had parked in a driveway adjacent to Alexis’s house. Alexis’s father told detectives then that his son “had experienced anger management problems that the family believed was associated with PTSD,” or post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the police report. The father said Alexis had been “an active participant in rescue attempts of Sept. 11, 2001.”
Alexis’s explanation for his behavior that day: The construction workers had “mocked” and “disrespected” him and then he had “a black-out fueled by anger.”
He was arrested but not charged, Seattle police said. The paperwork apparently was lost.
“That report never got to the Seattle city attorney’s office,” said Kimberly Mills, a spokeswoman for the city attorney. “Consequently, we never filed charges.”
In 2008, Alexis was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge in DeKalb County, Ga. He spent two nights in jail, police said, but they had no other details.
More recently, Alexis struck those who crossed his path as a man of sharp contrasts. He was learning the Thai language, visited Thailand for a month, was studying for an online degree in aeronautical engineering, and enjoyed conversing with diners, according to friends, customers and fellow worshipers. But some said he had an aggressive streak that made them keep their distance and avoid personal questions.
“He’s a 13-year-old stuck in a 34-year-old body,” said Oui Suthamtewakul, owner of the Happy Bowl Thai restaurant in White Settlement, Tex., and a friend who lived with Alexis for most of the past three years. “He needs attention.”