Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha
Washington: After the US Navy gunman Aaron Alexis went on a shooting spree inside the Washington Navy Yard, killing 12 people, questions galore - about how he was recruited into Navy and how he even secured a security clearance – have begun to be raised.
Despite having been arrested thrice and a checkered past of “misconducts” in the Navy and a mental health problem, the 34 year old defence contractor carried a secret security clearance.
Alexis had been arrested in 2004, 2008 and 2010, but never prosecuted. In 2004 in Seattle, he shot two bullets into the car of a person who he said had “disrespected” him. H etold police he conducted the act in a blackout triggered by anger. He was arrested and charged with misdemeanor for property damage and discharge of a firearm.
In spite of this, the US Navy recruited him in 2007. He was issued a secret security clearance in 2008 March , which was reinstated in July, reports say.
His four years span in US Navy was no immaculate as he had at least eight cases of “misconducts” and yet he was honourably discharged in 2011, clearing way for him being approved in a FBI background check as the FBI blocks those who have been dishonorably discharged from the military.
In 2008 August, he was arrested for misbehavior in a club in Atlanta where he damaged the furnishings. But still the Navy didn’t find any evidence so that he could be granted a ”general discharge” as he was never convicted.
Had Alexis been granted a general discharge, it would have been difficult for him to find a civilian job but he easily got the job in Hewlet-Packard’s company called The Experts in September 2012 as a defence contractor.
Al this time Alexis retained his security clearance, raising questions on the screening process by the Nvy and The Experts.
Alexis also suffered from mental troubles, and was receiving treatment for paranoia, sleep troubles and hearing voices.
According to media reports, Alexis told Rhode Island Police last month that people were talking to him through the walls and ceilings of his hotel rooms and sending microwave vibrations into his body to deprive him of sleep.
According to the police report, an individual "had sent three people to follow him and to talk, keep him awake and send vibrations into his body”.
Even though US’ National Rifle Association disqualifies people with mental health problems for firearms, still Alexis retained his assault rifle which he used during the Navy base rampage.
The incident has exposed various loopholes in the vetting process for military contractors. The Pentagon has ordered a security review across the Navy bases.
The incident has also brought the spotlight back on country’s gun laws with President Barack calling for strong gun control measures to stop the “ritual” of mass shootings.