With a history of violence and mental illness, how was Navy Yard shooter able to get a firearm?

Posted at 10:39 AM, Sep 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-18 10:39:59-04

Washington (CNN) — In the early morning hours of August 10, 2008, Aaron Alexis — now known as the Washington Navy Yard shooter — was arrested for disorderly conduct in metro Atlanta. The then-Navy reservist was kicked out of a club for damaging the furnishings and left the place releasing an unrelenting string of profanities even as police officers told him to stop.

He kept cussing and he was taken in, according to a police report.

An angry overreaction, maybe, but one that his military superiors noticed.

Was this just one side of an isolated incident? Or was it a warning sign of someone suffering from trauma dating back to the 9/11 attacks? It was this confrontation along with another arrest in Texas that prompted the Navy to begin proceedings to separate him from the military.

By the time the Navy began to seek a “general discharge” for Alexis, he had eight instances of misconduct on his record, including insubordination, disorderly conduct, unauthorized absences from work, and at least one instance of drunkenness. But in the end, he left the service with an honorable discharge because he had never been convicted and there was a lack of evidence to merit a general discharge, a U.S. defense official said.

A general discharge might have hindered his ability to get work in the civilian sector.

As it tragically played out, Alexis was working as a military contractor when he opened fire Monday at the Washington Navy Yard in the District of Columbia.

Authorities have not released their thoughts on Alexis’ motive in the morning shooting at the headquarters for Naval Sea Systems Command that left 12 people — and the gunman — dead. But a friend said Alexis was locked in a dispute over money with the company that contracted him to work for the Navy.

Investigators also learned that Alexis had recently made contact with two Veterans Affairs hospitals for apparent psychological issues, law enforcement sources told CNN on Tuesday. However, other sources said Alexis sought help from the VA for sleep-related issues.

He told Newport, Rhode Island, police last month that an individual “had sent three people to follow him and to talk, keep him awake and send vibrations into his body,” according to a police report.

Authorities said earlier that they are confident that Alexis was the lone gunman, after a daylong police search for a possible second suspect.

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