WASHINGTON (WAVY) - The man accused of gunning down 12 people at Washington Navy Yard Monday before he was killed by officers spent some time in Virginia Beach.
WAVY.com learned Aaron Alexis worked at Little Creek last late as July of 2013, just months before the shooting. Alexis was an information technology employee with a defense contractor.
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Aaron Alexis had been treated since August by the Veterans Administration for mental problems.
NBC Washington reported Alexis was staying at a Residence Inn on East Street with five other civilian contractors during a business trip to Washington. NBC4 said most of those contractors have been interviewed by police and the group was working on an IT project for a subcontractor of Hewlett-Packard.
His hotel room was searched by the FBI Monday night.
NBC's Pete Williams said authorities are in the process of obtaining search warrants for Alexis' rental car, which was found in a parking garage near the site of the shooting.
According to the Navy, the first shots at the Washington Navy Yard were fired at 8:20 a.m. at Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters, building 197, which is inside the historic naval base.
A "shelter in place" order was issued for all Washington Navy Yard personnel. About 3,000 people work at Washington Navy Yard.
Naval Sea Systems Command is the largest of the Navy's five system commands.
The Associated Press reported a male shooter carried an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and a handgun that he took from an officer at the scene. Williams reported the suspect bought a shotgun in Lorton, Va. during the past week.
Tuesday, the FBI said Alexis entered the Navy Yard armed with a shotgun, and there was no information he had an AR-15 at this time.
According to the Associated Press, witnesses claimed the gunman opened fire from a balcony on a cafeteria and hallway below.
Investigators confirmed to NBC News around 11:45 a.m. a shooter was killed. The shooter died during a running gun battle with police, the Associated Press reported.
WAVY News' Military Reporter Art Kohn said base employees were ordered to secure themselves in their offices and work spaces while investigators looked for what was believed to be two additional gunmen. However, investigators now believe there was only one shooter responsible, according to D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier.
The shooter was identified through fingerprints as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis of Fort Worth, TX. He was a civilian contractor and served in the U.S. Navy Reserves between May 5, 2007 and Jan. 31, 2011, when he was discharged, a Navy spokeswoman confirmed to NBC.
The Associated Press reported Alexis used his own pass to get inside the Navy Yard because he was a defense contractor.
The FBI is seeking information on Alexis. Please contact the FBI’s Washington Field Office at 202-278-2000 or 1-800-CALL-FBI.
It wasn't until the late afternoon when the first Washington Navy Yard employees were cleared and released from the base, according to Kohn. A Naval Petty Officer who works in an area near building 197 where the shooting took place spoke with WAVY.com.
"Word spread that shots were fired in the yard, and we went into a lock-down," said the Naval Petty Officer, who wished to be unnamed. He said he and his coworkers locked themselves in and tried to gather as much information as possible.
"We had TVs and we were watching the news just like everybody else. And that was a good source of information for us to get a sense of what was going on," he said.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said 12 victims, ranging in age from 46 to 73, died in the shooting -- none have been reported to be military personnel.
The victims have been identified as:
- 51-year-old Arthur Daniels of Southeast, Washington, D.C.
- 51-year-old Mary Francis Knight of Reston, Va.
- 58-year-old Gerald L. Read of Alexandria, Va.
- 54-year-old Martin Bodrog of Annandale, Va.
- 52-year old Richard Michael Ridgell of Westminster, Md.
- 61-year-old Vishnu Shalchendia Pandit of North Potomac, Md.
- 59-year-old Michael Arnold of Lorton, Va.
- 53-year-old Sylvia Frasier of Waldorf, Md.
- 62-year-old Kathy Gaarde of Woodbridge, Va.
- 73-year-old John Roger Johnson of Derwood, Md.
- 50-year-old Frank Kohler of Tall Timbers, Md.
- 46-year-old Kenneth Bernard Proctor of Waldorf, Md.
Gray said eight more people were injured, including D.C. Police Officer Scott Williams, and all are expected to survive.
Gray also said while Alexis' motive for the shooting is unknown, there have been reports he may have held a grudge against the Navy.
According to an incident report with the Seattle Police Department, Alexis was arrested in 2004 after shooting the tires of a vehicle during a "blackout" of anger.
The shooting is the deadliest at a U.S.-based military facility since 2009 when Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 13 people and wounded 30 more at Fort Hood in Texas.
President Obama was briefed several times about the situation.
The Naval District of Washington announced on its Facebook page around 7 p.m. the Navy Yard will be closed Tuesday except for "mission essential personnel" and those required for emergency response. The Facebook post also said no vehicle traffic -- on or off the base -- is allowed until further notice.
The FAA grounded departing flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport while inbound aircraft continued to land Monday. The grounding was lifted around 10:40 a.m. Dulles International Airport operated normally.
Reporters at NBC Washington reported hearing shots fired at the scene Monday morning. Moments later, they were told to move to another location.
Everyone in the immediate area was asked to stay inside their homes and businesses, and several schools in the area were placed on lockdown. Later in the day, Navy Yard employees were cleared and released from the base and children were allowed to leave nearby schools.
DC Police said family members of those affected may reunite at Nationals Stadium Parking Lot B, South Capitol & N Street SE. The Navy said family members can also call 202-433-6151 or 202-433-9713 for information on loved ones who may have been involved.
Naval Station Norfolk is under normal operations at this time, according to Public Affairs Officer Terri Davis. Portsmouth Naval Medical Center is also under normal operations.
Stay with WAVY.com for more as it becomes available.
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