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Shooting at the Washington Navy Yard

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Investigators are still probing the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, which saw a gunman kill a dozen people and injure several more. The man named by authorities as the shooter had a history of mental illness and a checkered career as a Navy reservist. Meanwhile, information is slowly emerging about the victims killed in the rampage. Here are the latest updates on the shooting and its aftermath.

Monday’s live updates | Tuesday’s live updates

  • Mark Berman
  • ·
  • September 18, 6:32 PM
(Jim Watson for AFP/Getty Images)

(Jim Watson for AFP/Getty Images)

We’re winding down our live coverage.

Here are some key headlines you may have missed during the day:

And in case you missed them: Profiles of those who were killed Monday and our latest story on the Navy Yard gunman.

  • Aaron C. Davis
  • ·

Navy Capt. Christopher Mercer e-mailed commanders during rampage to help police track gunman.

Read more

  • Mark Berman
  • ·
  • September 18, 5:18 PM

The Washington Navy Yard will be open Thursday at 6 a.m. and most employees are expected to resume normal work schedules, according to Naval District Washington.

The only exception is Naval Sea Systems Command employees. Building 197, which is the command’s headquarters and where the shooting was centered, is still an active crime scene.

The Navy Yard was only open to essential personnel Wednesday.

  • Steve Vogel
  • ·
  • September 18, 5:03 PM

The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee told the Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday that it must preserve all records involving its interactions with Aaron Alexis.

A letter sent by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki says that all documents, including work or personal e-mails, calendars and schedules of employees “touching in any way to Aaron Alexis” should be turned over to the committee as soon as possible.

“To be clear, no such records shall be destroyed, modified, altered, deleted, removed, relocated or otherwise negligently or intentionally handled so as to make them inaccessible to the Committee,” the letter states.

The letter follows requests sent to the VA Tuesday by the House and Senate veterans’ committees for information regarding the care and benefits the department provided Alexis.

On Wednesday afternoon, the department reported to the committees that Alexis sought treatment for insomnia at VA medical facilities in Providence, R.I., and Washington, D.C., and that he told medical workers that he was not depressed and that he was not considering harming others.

  • Michael Laris
  • ·
  • September 18, 4:48 PM

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Wednesday that “obviously there were a lot of red flags”  raised about Aaron Alexis as well as legitimate questions about “why they didn’t get picked up.”

Police in Rhode Island said they had no reason to arrest Alexis, or to put him under observation, after he told them about hearing voices, saying such run-ins are a common occurrence. But Lt. William Fitzgerald of the Newport, R.I., police said his department faxed the local naval police station their report, adding that an official there said they would follow up.

A spokesman at Naval Station Newport declined to say whether military police ended up doing so. “This will be part of the mix here,” Hagel said, adding that officials will be seeking answers to questions about “how we could have brought those kinds of reports into the clearance process.”

He said the Pentagon is launching reviews on the granting and renewing of security clearances and on access procedures at military facilities. An independent panel will also tackle those issues. The Navy is also doing its own examination. “Obviously, something went wrong,” Hagel said. “We will review everything.”

  • Steve Vogel
  • ·
  • September 18, 4:08 PM

Aaron Alexis told medical workers at Veterans Affairs medical facilities where he was seeking treatment for insomnia, that he was not depressed and that he was not considering harming himself or others, according to a Veterans Affairs memorandum delivered Wednesday afternoon to congressional committees.

The memo says that Alexis sought treatment at VA medical facility in Providence, R.I., on Aug. 23 and in Washington on Aug. 28.

“On both occasions, Mr. Alexis was alert and oriented, and was asked by VA doctors if he was struggling with anxiety or depression, or had thoughts about harming himself or others, which he denied,” said the memo, a copy of which has been obtained by The Washington Post.

The VA memorandum delivered to congressional committees Wednesday, the department’s first account of its interactions with Alexis, was sent in response to requests for information by the House and Senate veterans’ affairs committees.

Alexis never sought an appointment with VA mental health specialists, according to the memo, which cited departmental records. He either cancelled or did not show up for primary care appointments, the memo added.

During his visit Aug. 23  to the VA Medical Center in Providence, Alexis was given a small amount of  sleep medication and instructed to follow up with a primary care provider, the memo states.

Alexis showed up at the emergency room at the VA Medical Center in Washington five days later to request a refill, complaining of insomnia, which he attributed to his work schedule, according to the memo.

Alexis was enrolled in the VA health-care system in February 2011. He filed a disability compensation claim with the VA and in December 2011 was granted a 20 percent disability rating for “orthopedic issues,” according to the VA. A year later, the rating was increased to 30 percent, and an additional 10 percent awarded for tinnitus, a condition that involves ringing in the ear.

Alexis was receiving $395 a month based on the disability rating, according to the VA.

  • Peter Hermann
  • ·
  • September 18, 3:47 PM

A U.S. Capitol police tactical team rushed to the Washington Navy Yard minutes after the first shootings were reported Monday but was ordered to retreat by one of its commanders, according to a Capitol police officer familiar with the incident.

The officer said he did not know if the Capitol police would have entered the building along with D.C. and U.S. Park Police officers, or if D.C. police had asked them to respond. He said the team drove away from the scene as hundreds of law enforcement officers were arriving.

The officer, who said the labor union representing the rank-and-file had filed a complaint, was speaking on the condition that he not be named because he was commenting on internal procedures and was not authorized to speak with the media. WUSA (Channel 9) first reported the story.

The U.S. Capitol Police issued a statement saying that the agency “offered and provided mutual support and assistance at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday. Chief Kim Dine has opened a preliminary investigation into the allegations presented.”

Officer Shennell S. Antrobus, a Capitol Police spokesman, declined to comment further. A spokeswoman for the D.C. police did not respond to requests for comment.

If true, the incident would be the first crack in what D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier has called a smooth response by multiple police agencies working a chaotic mass casualty incident in which a gunman fatally shot 12 people and wounded others, including a city police officer.

At a recent news conference, Lanier said the officers confronted the gunman as “multiple agencies in a single team,” and added, “I have seen things that we have trained for and planned for years come into place nearly flawlessly.”

But the Capitol Police officer described the incident as embarrassing, though he could not say that the abrupt departure left D.C. police short-staffed. The Capitol Police tactical team is headquartered a short distance from the Navy Yard, and had two teams on duty that morning. A third was training at Fort Meade.

“We were definitely the closest tactical team in the city,” the officer said. “It was at the scene very early on, within a couple of minutes. They were ordered to disengage and turn back. For what reason, we don’t know.”

  • Steve Vogel
  • ·
  • September 18, 3:42 PM

Aaron Alexis told medical workers at Veterans Affairs medical facilities where he was seeking treatment for insomnia that he was not depressed and that he was not considering harming himself or others, according to a VA memorandum delivered Wednesday afternoon to congressional committees.

“On both occasions, Mr. Alexis was alert and oriented, and was asked by VA doctors if he was struggling with anxiety or depression, or had thoughts about harming himself or others, which he denied,” said the memo, a copy of which has been obtained by The Washington Post.

We will have more on this memo shortly.

  • Mark Berman
  • ·
  • September 18, 3:05 PM

Frank Kohler, who commuted 65 miles each way between his home in Tall Timbers and the Navy Yard, was a former Rotary Club president. Kathleen Gaarde was a devoted Washington Capitals fan.  Vishnu Pandit came to the United States searching for a better life. Martin Bodrog loved God, family, country and the Boston Bruins.

The 12 people killed during a gunman’s rampage at the Navy Yard were dedicated to public service, devoted to their families, caring friends and family.

Find out more about each of them here.

  • Mike DeBonis
  • ·
  • September 18, 2:31 PM

Mayor Vincent C. Gray issued calls today for stricter gun control for the first time since the Navy Yard rampage, two days after the shootings put him on a national stage.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if we had sensible gun control legislation in America?” he asked rhetorically at a morning news conference announcing his legislative agenda for the fall. “I mean, how in the world can we not have background checks on people? There are certainly elements associated with this incident on Monday that would raise questions about why it is that we don’t have background checks done on people when they purchase guns.”

Shooter Aaron Alexis did, in fact, pass state and federal background checks when he purchased his Remington shotgun Saturday at the Sharpshooters gun store in Newington, Va., The Post’s Tom Jackman reported. The computerized system administered by the Virginia State Police runs through state databases on criminal history, domestic relations and mental health history and also checks a federal background database.

It is unclear whether any of Alexis’s reported run-ins with the law in Georgia, Texas, Rhode Island or Washington state, or his treatment for mental health issues by the Department of Veterans Affairs, should have triggered red flags during the check.

But Gray, without singling out Virginia, criticized jurisdictions with gun laws less stringent than the District’s — which included a total ban on private handgun ownership until the Supreme Court struck it down in 2008.

“You know, we can have whatever gun control laws we want in the District of Columbia, and then we are completely vulnerable to surrounding jurisdictions whose laws may be much more lax than ours,” Gray said. “I hope I’m not just talking to that wall over here. The day will come hopefully when we do have federal legislation that will address some of these issues. I felt it would come in the wake of Newtown, Sandy Hook, and it didn’t. Will it come in the wake of this incident? I don’t know.”

  • Sari Horwitz
  • ·
  • September 18, 2:02 PM

Law enforcement officials said that Aaron Alexis went to two Veterans Affairs hospitals, complaining of insomnia. Both visits were after the Aug. 7 incident in Newport, Rhode Island where he told police that he was hearing voices of three people who had been sent to follow him and keep him awake.

The first visit was to a Veterans Affairs hospital in Providence; the second visit was to a Veterans Affairs hospital in Washington, D.C.

  • Mark Berman
  • ·
  • September 18, 1:40 PM

The mother of gunman Aaron Alexis issued a statement this morning apologizing for what her son did:


  • Tom Jackman
  • ·
  • September 18, 1:10 PM
Sharpshooters Small Arms Range in Newington, Va. Aaron Alexis tried out an AR-15 rifle there before purchasing a Remington 870 shotgun which he used in the Washington Navy Yard shootings. (Tom Jackman/The Washington Post)

Sharpshooters Small Arms Range in Newington, Va. Aaron Alexis tried out an AR-15 rifle there before purchasing a Remington 870 shotgun which he used in the Washington Navy Yard shootings. (Tom Jackman/The Washington Post)

When Aaron Alexis visited a Newington gun store and firing range on Saturday, he tested out an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle but did not seek to buy it, a lawyer for the store said Wednesday. The .223-caliber rifle was used in recent mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., and initial reports indicated that one may have been used in the Washington Navy Yard shootings.

Instead, after purchasing ammunition and test firing the AR-15, Alexis inquired about buying a handgun at Sharpshooters Small Arms Range, according to J. Michael Slocum, an attorney for the store. But Virginia law does not allow dealers to sell directly to out-of-state residents, and the gun would have had to be shipped to a licensed dealer in Alexis’s home state, Slocum said. Rifles and shotguns may be sold to out-of-state residents, however, and Alexis then selected the Remington 870 Express shotgun, bought it and about two boxes of shells, or about 24 rounds, Slocum said. Alexis then passed a state and federal background check and bought the shotgun.

Authorities said the shotgun was then used in the Navy Yard shootings in which 12 people were killed before Alexis was shot dead.

Here is more on  Sharpshooters and Alexis’s legal purchase of the shotgun.

  • Emily Wax-Thibodeaux
  • ·

Family, co-workers say Arthur Daniels had worked on and off at the Navy Yard for over 19 years.

Read more

  • Mark Berman
  • ·
  • September 18, 12:41 PM

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced in a news conference Wednesday morning that the Pentagon would review security and examine how security clearances are granted. Hagel said he “directed a review of physical security and access procedures” at all Defense facilities around the world. In addition, he said there would be a review of how security clearances are granted and renewed.

Watch below:

  • Philip Rucker
  • ·
  • September 18, 12:32 PM

President Obama plans to attend a memorial service on Sunday to honor the victims of Monday’s shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington that killed 12 people.

“The president wants to mourn the loss of these innocent victims and share in the nation’s pain in the aftermath of another senseless mass shooting,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Wednesday.

Carney said the White House will release details of the event and Obama’s appearance as they become available.

  • Mike DeBonis
  • ·
  • September 18, 12:29 PM
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region announced Wednesday it has established a fund to support the needs of those injured in Monday’s shooting and the families of those who were killed.

Terri Freeman, the president of the foundation, said the Navy Yard Relief Fund welcomes donations from individuals and organizations, and contributions are 100 percent tax deductible. Donations are being accepted online.

The foundation, which manages $326 million in donor assets and grants upward of $90 million to regional nonprofits every year, ran a $25 million relief fund for the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon.

In addition to the relief fund, Freeman said the foundation has also established a Safer Communities Fund to “address the long-term, systemic challenge of violence in our society.” That fund is wholly separate from the relief fund, she said, and will be used to support nonprofit groups that offer mental health services and address gun violence in the Washington area. Donations for that fund are also being accepted online.

“We also wanted to do something that focused on longer-term solutions,” said Freeman, who said she was personally moved by comments made by President Obama and by Washington Hospital Center medical director Janis Orlowski, who pleaded with the public to “put my trauma center out of business” hours after the shootings.

“I thought, ‘You know, we’ve just got to do something,’” she said at a news conference hosted by Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “Because It’s not just these mass events, but it’s the violence that occurs in our communities in a daily basis.”

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