Alexis had been a full-time Navy reservist from 2007 to early 2011, and a Navy spokesman said his security clearance, at the “secret level,” was good for 10 years from when he got it.
On Monday morning, he used a valid badge to gain access to the sprawling Navy Yard and Building 197, bringing with him a sawed-off shotgun on which the cryptic messages of “better off this way” and “my ELF weapon” were scrawled, according to a law enforcement document reviewed by The Associated Press. The meaning of those words wasn’t immediately clear.
The motive of the shooting also remains unclear, though investigators have focused on Alexis’s mental health and alarming behavior displayed in the weeks before the massacre.
Alexis had enrolled in VA health care in February 2011, and received monthly disability payments of $395 for orthopedic problems and ringing in his ears, according to the VA. He never sought an appointment from a mental health specialist and either canceled or failed to show up for primary care appointments he had scheduled at VA hospitals, the department said.
Meanwhile, Alexis’s mother said Wednesday she does not know why her son opened fire on office workers and police. Cathleen Alexis read a brief statement inside her New York home, her voice shaking. She did not take questions from a reporter.
“Aaron is now in a place where he can no longer do harm to anyone, and for that I am glad,” Cathleen Alexis said. “To the families of the victims, I am so so very sorry that this has happened. My heart is broken.”
Alexis had with him during the massacre a handgun he picked up inside the building and a legally obtained Remington 870 Express shotgun.
The shotgun was brought into the building disassembled and pieced together by Alexis once inside, according to a law enforcement official and a senior defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.