“The clearance piece of this is one, I think, we very clearly have to take another look at,” said Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Navy Yard itself reopened for normal operations on Thursday, but it was hardly business as usual. Returning employees said they felt unsettled. Workers who streamed by the red brick wall of the Navy Yard in the early morning sun said it was too soon to talk about the week’s violence.
FBI Director James Comey said investigators were still working through video evidence, but fresh details of the shootings were emerging.
Comey said Alexis entered the Navy Yard in a vehicle, parked in a deck across from Building 197, entered carrying a bag, went into a fourth-floor bathroom and came out carrying a Remington 870 shotgun. The shotgun was cut down at both ends — the stock sawed off and the barrel sawed off a bit — and ammunition was stowed in a cargo pocket on the outside of his pants.
Almost immediately Alexis started to shoot people on the fourth floor with no discernible pattern, Comey said. Alexis also went down to the lobby, shot a security guard and took the guard’s handgun, continuing his shooting until he was cornered later by a team of officers and killed after a sustained gunfire exchange.
Comey said there was no evidence that Alexis fired shots down into the atrium despite initial accounts from witnesses at the scene.
“It appears to me that he was wandering the halls and hunting for people to shoot,” he said.
Alexis had worked for a Florida-based IT consulting firm called The Experts. He had been refreshing Pentagon computer systems, holding a military security clearance that would have expired five years from now.
The same company that investigated Alexis for his security clearance also did a 2011 follow-up investigation of Edward Snowden, the former NSA systems analyst who leaked documents about the National Security Agency. The company, USIS, said in a statement Thursday it conducted Alexis’ background check in 2007 for the Office of Personnel Management but that it couldn’t elaborate.