Signs of Mental Illness Seen in Navy Gunman for Decade

   < < Go Back
from The New York Times,

The former Navy reservist who killed 12 people in a shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday had exhibited signs of mental illness dating back more than a decade, including a recent episode in which he complained about hearing voices and of people sending “vibrations to his body” to prevent him from sleeping, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

Only a month ago, the gunman, Aaron Alexis, 34, was suffering from hallucinations so severe that he called the Newport Police Department in Rhode Island where he told officers he was on business.

When officers came to his hotel room on Aug. 7 at 6 a.m., Mr. Alexis told them that he had gotten into an argument with someone at an airport in Virginia. He said the person he had argued with “had sent three people to follow him and to keep him awake by talking to him and sending vibrations to his body” via a microwave machine, according to a police report.

Mr. Alexis had moved to three different hotels in a single night to elude strange voices and people he believed were sending the microwave vibrations. At a hotel at a nearby naval base, Mr. Alexis told the police that he had heard “voices speaking to him through the wall, flooring and ceiling,” said Lt. William Fitzgerald of the Newport police.

“He said he never had a history of mental illness,” Lt. Fitzgerald said.

Still such incidents seemed to be part of a pattern. One official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation, said that Mr. Alexis had been exhibiting symptoms of mental illness since at least his early 20s, before he joined the naval reserve and then went on to be a military contractor. The official said Mr. Alexis has been described by people who knew him as paranoid and delusional. It is not clear whether Mr. Alexis sought medical treatment.

More From The New York Times: