WASHINGTON -- A mass shooting Monday morning at the Washington Navy Yard left at least 13 people dead, including a suspected gunman, who police late Monday night said was a contractor with valid military identification who apparently drove onto the base.
It was perhaps the most devastating shooting attack in the heavily guarded nations capital in decades and sparked new concerns about security at U.S. military facilities.
District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier identified the gunman as a civilian Navy contractor, Aaron Alexis, 34, of Fort Worth, Texas, who was identified by fingerprints. An employee of a Hewlett-Packard subcontractor, Alexis was a full-time Navy reservist until 2011, last serving with a logistics support squadron in Fort Worth.
At a late-night news conference, local police and the FBI dismissed earlier media reports that Alexis used a friends identification to get into a building at the Washington Navy Yard before he sprayed bullets on prone victims until police arrived, exchanging gunfire with him several times before he was shot dead. Alexis, they said, had a legitimate ID to enter the facility. Hewlett Packard released a statement Monday night confirming that Alexis worked for The Experts, a large subcontractor on a naval contract managed by HP Enterprise Services.
For much of the day, authorities were seeking to question a black man between 40 and 50 years of age described as wearing an olive-colored military-style uniform. Late Monday night, Lanier said Alexis was thought to have been a lone gunman. Lanier said earlier that a potential third suspect was cleared of any involvement.
The FBI also confirmed that a car left at the scene is believed to have been driven by Alexis.
We are processing a vehicle at the scene related to the shooting, said Valerie Parlave, the FBI assistant director-in-charge.
Late Monday CNN reported that the HP contract involved Alexis visiting offices all along the Eastern seaboard and that there had been no complaints about his work or behavior.
In its statement, HP said the contract Alexis was working on was to to refresh equipment used on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) network. HP is cooperating fully with law enforcement as requested.
Following the late-hour news conference, police released the first seven names of the slain vicitims. None were active-duty military. They were identified as Michael Arnold, 59; Sylvia Frasier, 53; Kathy Gaarde, 62; John Roger Johnson, 73; Frank Kohler, 50; Bernard Proctor, 46; and Vishnu Pandit, 61.The families of the remaining five victims had yet to be informed.
Alexis had a police record for gun-related incidents in the states of Texas and Washington, according to legal documents and law enforcement.
Multiple news reports said the Navy had discharged Alexis for a pattern of misconduct. His ability to get a clearance with a general discharge from the military and two gun arrests likely will become a key matter for investigation..
Nutpisit Suthamtewakul, owner of Happy Bowl Thai in the Fort Worth area, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Alexis was my best friend.
He lived with me three years, Suthamtewakul said Monday afternoon. I dont think hed do this. He has a gun, but I dont think hes that stupid. He didnt seem aggressive to me.
The FBI posted a Seeking Information notice about Alexis, showing his photograph and asking for help in piecing together how and why he was in the nations capital.