Aaron Alexis, identified as the gunman in Monday’s deadly shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, had fired a handgun in two previous incidents in Texas and Washington state in which no one was hurt, according to police records.
When questioned by Seattle police after he shot out the tires of a construction vehicle in 2004, Alexis said he had experienced an anger-fueled blackout. He claimed he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, purportedly from assisting with rescues after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York.
Then in September 2010, a neighbor of Alexis told Fort Worth police that he had fired a shot through her floor. Alexis claimed the gun had fired accidentally while he was cleaning it, but the woman told police she believed he fired into her apartment after confronting her about noise.
Texas prosecutors declined to pursue charges in the Fort Worth incident.
In Seattle, Alexis was charged with discharging a firearm and damage to property, but the disposition of the case was unclear. In that shooting, Alexis fired three shots from a Glock 30 .45-caliber handgun into the rear tires of a vehicle parked at a construction site next to his residence, according to May 6, 2004, police report.
The vehicle’s owner and other construction workers told police they had never exchanged words with him. But they said Alexis had been staring at them every morning for the previous 30 days, at times brandishing a handgun.
Alexis told police he believed the vehicle’s owner had “mocked” and “disrespected” him, according to the police report.
“That perception led to what Alexis described as a ‘blackout’ fueled by anger,” the report said. “He said he didn’t remember pulling the trigger of his firearm until about one hour later.”
Alexis said he had been present during the Sept. 11 attacks and that “those events had disturbed him,” the report said. The officer who filed the report said Alexis’ father told him by phone from New York that Alexis was “an active participant in rescue attempts of Sept. 11, 2001.”
Officers consfiscated Alexis’ gun, which they found wrapped in a paper bag, and arrested him.
In Fort Worth on Sept. 4, 2010, a woman who lived above Alexis at an apartment complex said he had fired a round through his ceiling and into her floor. The woman told officers that Alexis had called police several times to complain about noises he said were coming from her apartment. A few days earlier, he had confronted her in the parking lot, according to a police report.
“She is terrified of Aaron and feels this was done intentionally,” the report said.
Alexis told officers that the gun had accidentally discharged while he was cleaning it because his hands were slippery from cooking. An officer spotted a disassembled gun in Alexis’ apartment next to a gun-cleaning kit.
Alexis was arrested and booked. The Tarrant County District Attorney’s office declined to prosecute, saying that because Alexis was cleaning the gun, “the elements constituting recklessness under Texas law were not present.”