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Washington Navy Yard shooting: LIVE UPDATES

Published time: September 16, 2013 14:02
Edited time: September 20, 2013 01:42

An official from the Washington, DC Office of the Medical Examiner wheels a body on a gurney out of the emergency room at George Washington University Hospital shortly after it was announced that the first victim of the shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington had died at the hospital, in Washington September 16, 2013. (Reuters/Gary Cameron)

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There were thirteen fatalities in Washington, DC Monday morning following an armed rampage at Navy Yard, including the gunman later identified as Aaron Alexis.

Friday, September 20

0139 GMT: The same government contractor that deemed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden eligible for a security clearance also screened Aaron Alexis, the accused gunman behind the Navy Yard shooting. USIS admitted Thursday that it had conducted checks on Alexis in 2007 and granted him security clearance in 2008. The privilege was good until 2018. A spokesman refused to tell reporters exactly what the vetting process turned up on Alexis but did reveal that his 204 arrest was noted. 

US Senator Claire McCaskill said after Snowden leaked classified NSA documents earlier this year that USIS would be the subject of a criminal investigation for a “pattern of failure.” USIS is one of the primary companies used by the US government to conduct such security checks.

Thursday, September 19 

2030 GMT: Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis is believed to have carried out Monday’s shootings without any specific targets in mind, according to comments made by FBI Director James Comey.

“It appears to me that he was wandering the halls and hunting people to shoot,” Comey told reporters at FBI headquarters in Washington today. “He appears to be moving without particular direction or purpose,” and not “looking for a particular person or a particular group.”

1500 GMT:  Washington Navy Yard reopened on Thursday morning at 6am, with all facilities functioning and accessible with the exception of Building 197 and a gym, which were the site of Monday’s shootings. The base remained at a heightened level of security, while a notice posted online stated that Building 197 and surrounding areas “remain an active crime scene" and will be closed until further notice.

A letter from Vice Admiral Bill French to staff said Thursday was a "regular workday."

"I join with you in grieving for our Navy Yard colleagues and Navy family who were senselessly gunned down on Monday. But as we grieve, we also stand strong, knowing that our inner strength and the ideals for which we work and train and fight are infinitely stronger than gun-wielding individuals."

Wednesday, September 18 

2230 GMT: Sources within the Capitol Police department have told the BBC that the heavily armed and highly trained four-member Containment and Emergency Response Team (Cert) arrived outside one of the Navy Yard buildings armed with HK-416 assault weapons a few minutes after the 8:20am initial report, but were told to stand down by a supervisor instead of aiding municipal officers.

"I don't think it's a far stretch to say that some lives may have been saved if we were allowed to intervene," a Capitol Police source familiar with the incident told the BBC. The department has launched a review into the matter.

2200 GMT: The Washington Navy Yard gunman had recently been to two different hospitals seeking treatment for insomnia, though he denied having any anxiety or depression issues, or thoughts of harming himself or others, reports the AP.

The new information regarding visits by Alexis to two different VA hospitals in August -- one in Rhode Island, and the other in Washington -- was released to Congress on Wednesday. Alexis was prescribed medication to help him sleep, though medical records described him as “alert and oriented” during hospital visits.

Alexis, formerly a member of the Navy Reserve, had a 30 per cent “disability rating” based on orthopedic issues and tinnitus, a hearing condition that can produce ringing when no sound is present.

2100 GMT: Two law enforcement officials have said that Alexis carved phrases onto the stock of his shotgun prior to the mass shooting that read “Better off this way” and “My ELF weapon.” Investigators are looking at those carvings as potential clues as to the gunman’s motives. 

ELF typically refers to “extremely low frequency” says the Washington Post, and may be related to prior claims made by Alexis that vibrations were being aimed at him by unknown individuals.

0332 GMT: US Senators Claire McCaskill and Jon Tester will send a letter to the inspector general of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), seeking answers surrounding the suspect’s background check that led to the clearance. OPM handles oversight of most federal background checks.

"I want to know who conducted his [Alexis'] background investigation, if that investigation was done by contractors, and if it was subject to the same systemic problems we've seen with other background checks in the recent past," McCaskill said in a statement to Reuters on Tuesday. 

The senators want to know "how Mr. Alexis' background investigations addressed his pattern of misconduct, including his reported arrests on charges relating to firearms in 2004 and 2010" and a previous disorderly conduct charge.

"In general, background security clearance investigations include information about an individual's criminal history, including criminal records, and that information would be passed on to the adjudicating agency,” Mert Miller, associate director of federal investigative services at OPM, said in a statement.

Tuesday, September 17 

2230 GMT: New information regarding an August 7 incident in Rhode Island involving Aaron Alexis adds to mounting evidence suggesting the gunman was mentally unstable. According to a report filed by Newport police sent to the Rhode Island naval station Alexis was involved in an argument with another individual prior to boarding a flight originating in Virginia. Alexis later said he believed that individual had sent three other people to follow and harass him, reports the AP. Alexis heard voices speaking to him through a wall at a hotel in Rhode Island, leading him to change hotels twice, though the voices still followed him and he feared they would harm him.

According to the police report Alexis believed the individuals trailing him were using “some sort of microwave machine” to emit vibrations through the ceiling, penetrating his body and preventing him from falling asleep. 

2100 GMT: An attorney for a Virginia gun store has confirmed that Alexis rented a rifle, purchased bullets and used a shooting range at Sharpshooters Small Arms Range on Saturday (the AP had previously reported that had taken place on Sunday), some 15 miles from the site of the shootings at the Navy Yard. Michael Slocum said via an email to the AP that Alexis had purchased a shotgun along with 24 shells. Slocum added that the gun store had processed a federal background check and that it had been approved. Law enforcement showed up at the range on Monday and reviewed video and store records.

1910 GMT: US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is to order a report on American military installations around the world as a response to Monday’s mass shootings at the DC Navy Yard. A senior Pentagon official has said that Hagel will work with senior officials to create a process for a review, which may be formally announced as early as tomorrow, reports The Hill newspaper. That report should be similar to that already announced by the US Navy.

1918 GMT: An IT company that Aaron Alexis worked for told Reuters that they hired an outside firm to perform two background checks on the suspected shooter within the last year, and twice confirmed his “secret”-level security clearance as authorized by the Pentagon.

"The latest background check and security clearance confirmation were in late June of 2013 and revealed no issues other than one minor traffic violation," Alexis' employer, The Experts, told Reuters.

1809 GMT: At a press conference at Navy Yard Tuesday afternoon, the FBI said they do not have any information at this time to suggest that Alexis had an AR-15 in his possession during Monday's rampage. A representative for the agency cautioned the media against reporting inaccurate information from illegitimate sources and said the FBI believes Alexis entered Navy Yard with a shotgun and may have obtained a handgun after he opened fire at Building 197.

1700 GMT: Following the shooting, US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus ordered a review of physical security at all Navy and Marine Corps installations, Reuters reports. First, the Navy will take a "quick look" at installations to see whether existing physical security standards are being met. Then, a second review will be larger and more in-depth, the official said.

1355 GMT: Suspected Navy Yard shooter, Aaron Alexis, was honorably discharged from the US Navy reserve in 2011 despite a pattern of misconduct, Reuters reports citing an official.

1120 GMT: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will lay a wreath in honor of the victims, CNN reports.

0500 GMT: Despite friends and neighbors describing Alexis as “nice,” his father once told detectives in Seattle his son had “anger management problems related to post-traumatic stress brought on by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,” AP reported. He also complained about the Navy and being a “victim of discrimination.”

0240 GMT: The Metropolitan police have released the names of seven people who were killed Monday. Scott Williams, the police officer who was shot, is a 20-year veteran of the force and is said to be "in high spirits" after surgery.

Michael Arnold, 59

Sylvia Frasier, 53

Kathy Gaarde, 62

John Roger Johnson, 73 

Frank Kohler, 50

Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46

Vishnu Pandit, 61

0232 GMT: Oui Suthamtewakul, the owner of the Thai restaurant where Alexis worked, told the Washington Post the suspected gunman drank heavily, carried a gun “at all times,” and he “had a problem with American women.” 

He’s a 13 year old stuck in a 34 year old body. He needs attention,” Suthamtewakul said. “He always hit on girls” while at work, something Suthamtewakul often chided him for, “You know you can’t do that.” 

Him with a Heineken,” the restaurant owner said when asked about how he will remember Alexis. “He can start drinking at 9:30 in the morning. He’s not an alcoholic, he just drinks a lot.” 

0219 GMT: Washington Mayor Gray told reporters that the deceased victims were all between 46 and 73 years of age. The authorities are still notifying families and they are unsure of when that process will be complete. 

District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray listens during an evening news briefing at a DC government building not far away from the Washington Navy Yard on September 16, 2013 in Washington, DC (AFP Photo / Patrick McDermott)

He added that a total of eight people were injured. Three of that total were shot, including the policeman shot three times in the leg. Another five injuries were less serious, ranging from stress and chest pain to head contusions. 

Police said residents can travel through the city freely again, as there has been no evidence of a second shooter. 

At least one of the victims was a Washington DC resident and no active-duty military have been identified as killed or wounded. 

The FBI has determined that Alexis had "legitimate access" to the Navy Yard.

Gray also anticipated that traffic patterns will returns to normal throughout the DC metro area on Tuesday.

0154 GMT: Pentagon officials said the Navy has decided to wait 24 hours before releasing the victims' identities. 

0131 GMT: Vice Admiral French told reporters that, as of 8:30 pm EST, approximately 2,000 civilians were still at the Navy Yard and it was likely that it may take three hours to process them off the base. SWAT teams swept the site clearing people out of hiding spots area-by-area. A city official told the Washington Post one Navy employee was found in a locker after hiding there for 11 hours. 

0129 GMT: The shooter carried an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun, and a handgun during Monday’s rampage. Authorities believe he arrived at the Navy Yard with a shotgun and obtained the Ar-15 and handgun from a safe at the military site. 

Police stand guard outside the Brooklyn residence of Cathleen Alexis, mother of suspected Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, in New York September 16, 2013 (Reuters / Andrew Kelly)

0111 GMT: Alexis had a “secret” security clearance and had a military-ID card, although whether he started work at the Navy Yard yet remains unclear. 

He did have a secret clearance. And he did have a CAC (common access card),” Thomas Hoshko, CEO of “The Experts,” the firm contracted by the Navy, told Reuters. 

Hoshko was also asked when Alexis was scheduled to begin work, to which he replied “That’s what I got to find out, if he was supposed to start today…it’s not clear to me.” 

0027 GMT: California Senator Dianne Feinstein said in a statement Monday that the Navy Yard shooting is just further evidence that Congress is "skirting its responsibility" to make automatic weapons illegal for criminals to purchase. 

This is one more event to add to the litany of massacres that occur when a deranged person or grievance killer is able to obtain multiple weapons — including a military-style assault rifle — and kill many people in a short amount of time. When will enough be enough?”

0024 GMT: Navy Vice Admiral William French told reporters that a total of 13 people were killed in the shooting, including the shooter, and all victims were civilians. Fourteen others were wounded. 

Police work in the U.S. Navy Yard after a shooting in Washington September 16, 2013 (Reuters / Joshua Roberts)

"Our hearts, our thoughts, and prayers go out to everyone involved," French said.

0013 GMT: Free counseling will be available for military personnel and civilian personnel affected by the shooting Monday. Transportation will also be provided for the families of those affected if they choose to attend counseling at the Washington Nationals baseball park, a law enforcement spokesman said during an evening press conference. 

0004 GMT: Alexis security clearance was updated in July and approved by military personnel. He appears to have had a government access security card that would have allowed him entry into the Navy Yard and other military facilities.