The man suspected of killing 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard, identified as Aaron Alexis of Fort Worth, left the Navy in 2011.
Alexis, 34, was shot to death after a gunbattle with police at the site of Monday’s shooting in Washington, D.C., The Associated Press reported. Police say they do not have a motive for the shootings.
Nutpisit Suthamtewakul, owner of Happy Bowl Thai in White Settlement, a Fort Worth suburb, said Alexis was “my best friend.”
“He lived with me three years,” Suthamtewakul said Monday afternoon. “I don’t think he’d do this. He has a gun, but I don’t think he’s that stupid. He didn’t seem aggressive to me.”
Upon learning of his death, Suthamtewakul said, “Wait, he’s dead? I call him, but he doesn’t answer phone.”
Alexis had been in the Navy from 2007 to 2011 and was most recently stationed at Naval Air Station Fort Worth, according to Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Blansett, a Navy spokeswoman in McLean, Va.
He worked as an aviation electrician’s mate, 3rd class, in the Navy Reserve’s Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 46, according to the Navy.
Friends said he left the Navy because he didn’t like to get up early and had complained about getting underpaid.
Alexis also worked at times as a waiter and deliveryman at Happy Bowl, customers said.
Alexis had recently visited Thailand and had been to Japan with a computer defense contractor, where he worked in information technology, said Sandy Guerra-Cline, a customer at Happy Bowl and copy editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
“He is not a guy that talked about guns or talked about anything violent,” Guerra-Cline said. “As a matter of fact, my best memories of him were of him sitting at one of the tables at Happy Bowl trying to teach himself Thai.”
But a police report filed in September 2010 painted a different picture of Alexis.
Records show that he was arrested for discharging a firearm within a municipality.
Police were dispatched to the Oak Hills apartments about 6:40 p.m. Sept 4, 2010, on a report that someone had fired a shot through the floor and into the ceiling of a woman’s apartment, according to a Fort Worth police report.
The woman told police she had been sitting in a chair when she heard a loud pop and saw dust.
“She then saw that there was a hole in her floor just a couple of feet from where she was sitting while shredding papers and a hole in the ceiling,” the report states. “She told me that she believed someone had shot a bullet through her apartment.”
The woman told police that Alexis, her downstairs neighbor, did not come up to check on her after the shooting.
She said that Alexis had called police on her several times in the past for “being loud” but that police never heard anything and therefore, no action was taken.
“She said that several days ago Aaron confronted her in the parking lot about making too much noise,” the report states.
The woman told police that she was “terrified” of Alexis and felt the shooting was done intentionally.
The report states police attempted to contact Alexis at his apartment but received no response.
Fearing someone could be hurt, police had called the Fire Department to the scene to attempt to force entry into the man’s apartment. When firefighters arrived on the scene, however, Alexis came outside voluntarily and told officers he had been cleaning his gun when it went off.
“He said that he was trying to clean his gun while cooking and that his hands were slippery. He told me that he began to take the gun apart when his hands slipped and pulled the trigger, discharging a round into the ceiling,” the report states.
“When asked why he didn’t call police or go check on the resident above him, Aaron said that he didn’t think it went all the way through since he couldn’t see any light through the hole,” the report states.
Alexis told police he thought people would dismiss the noise as a firecracker.
“I then asked why he wouldn’t answer the door when I knocked and he said that he thought it was just his upstairs neighbor and he didn’t want to talk to her because she is always making noise,” the report states.
Police arrested Alexis at the scene on suspicion of discharging a firearm in a municipality, a Class A misdemeanor. He was released from jail the next day, Tarrant County records show, and was never formally charged in the case.
“After reviewing the facts presented by the police department, it was determined that the elements constituting recklessness under Texas law were not present and a case was not filed,” said Melody McDonald, a spokeswoman with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.
The Orion at Oak Hill apartments in Fort Worth began eviction efforts against Alexis later in September 2010. Records show that he moved from the Oak Hill apartments in December 2010.
Alexis, whose most recent address was 7940 White Settlement Road in Fort Worth, had not lived there for six to eight months, said his landlord, Somsak Srisan.
“Oh boy, I can’t believe this,” Srisan said. “He was always very polite to me.”
Srisan believed Alexis lived alone at the White Settlement house.
“When he lived at my house, I never see him get angry about anything,” Srisan said. “My feeling is if he was angry about anything, he didn’t show that to me.”
He had seen Alexis meditate and said he always remained calm around him.
“I can’t believe he would do anything like this,” Srisan said. “He always behaved well around me.”
A friend said Alexis loved Buddhism.
“He loved to go to temple, go to meditate in Thai and English,” the friend said. “He could do both of them.”
Alexis had previously lived in Flushing, N.Y., from 2000 to 2002. It is unclear where he lived from 2002 until he moved to Fort Worth.
By Deanna Boyd - Fort Worth Star-Telegram (MCT)
(Staff writers Bill Hanna, Bud Kennedy and Bill Miller contributed to this report.)
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