Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Warnings signs for Aaron Alexis are abundant and came out quickly

Warning signs indicating a potential problem with Aaron Alexis and indicating what could have led to that problem came out surprisingly soon; unfortunately as usual the commercial media isn't consulting with the most credible experts to inform the public how to recognize and prevent these problems before the last minute when it would be much easier.

The following article describes some of these warning signs and although they don't discuss it they also hint at potential additional problems that almost certainly occurred before these warning signs happened:

Gunman In Navy Yard Shooting Was In Navy Reserves AP

Aaron Alexis seems a study in contradictions: a former Navy reservist, a Defense Department contractor, a convert to Buddhism who was taking an online course in aeronautics. But he also had flashes of temper that led to run-ins with police over shootings in Fort Worth, Texas, and Seattle.

A profile began to emerge Monday of the man authorities identified as the gunman in a mass shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., that left 13 people dead, including the 34-year-old man. While some neighbors and acquaintances described him as "nice," his father once told detectives in Seattle that his son had anger management problems related to post-traumatic stress brought on by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He also complained about the Navy and being a victim of discrimination.

U.S. law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that Alexis had been suffering a host of serious mental issues, including paranoia and a sleep disorder. He also had been hearing voices in his head, the officials said. Alexis had been treated since August by the Veterans Administration for his mental problems, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the criminal investigation in the case was continuing.

The Navy had not declared him mentally unfit, which would have rescinded a security clearance Alexis had from his earlier time in the Navy Reserves. Family members told investigators Alexis was being treated for his mental issues.

At the time of the shootings, he worked for The Experts, a subcontractor on an HP Enterprise Services contract to refresh equipment used on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet network. His life over the past decade has been checkered.

Alexis lived in Seattle in 2004 and 2005, according to public documents. In 2004, Seattle police said Alexis was arrested for shooting out the tires of another man's vehicle in what he later described to detectives as an anger-fueled "blackout." According to an account on the department's website, two construction workers had parked their Honda Accord in the driveway of their worksite, next to a home where Alexis was staying. The workers reported seeing a man, later identified by police as Alexis, walk out of the home next to their worksite, pull a gun from his waistband and fire three shots into the rear tires of their Honda before he walked slowly back to his home.

When detectives interviewed workers at the construction site, they told police Alexis had stared at construction workers at the job site daily for several weeks prior to the shooting. The owner of the construction business told police he believed Alexis was angry over the parking situation around the site.

Police eventually arrested Alexis, searched his home, found a gun and ammunition in his room, and booked him into the King County Jail for malicious mischief. According to the police account, Alexis told detectives he perceived he had been "mocked" by construction workers the morning of the incident. Alexis also claimed he had an anger-fueled "blackout," and could not remember firing his gun at the Honda until an hour after the incident.

Alexis also told police he was present during "the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001" and described "how those events had disturbed him." Then, on May 5, 2007, he enlisted in the Navy reserves, serving through 2011, according to Navy spokeswoman Lt. Megan Shutka.

Shutka said he received the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal during his stint in the reserves. Both are medals issued to large numbers of service members who served abroad and in the United States since the 9/11 attacks. Alexis' last assignment was as aviation electricians mate 3rd class at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Shutka said.

It was while he was still in the reserves that a neighbor in Fort Worth reported she had been nearly struck by a bullet shot from his downstairs apartment. In September 2010, Fort Worth police questioned Alexis about the neighbor's report. He admitted to firing his weapon but said he was cleaning his gun when it accidentally discharged. He said he did not call the police because he didn't think the bullet went through to the other apartment. The neighbor told police she was scared of Alexis and felt he fired intentionally because he had complained about her making too much noise.

Alexis was arrested on suspicion of discharging a firearm within city limits but Tarrant County district attorney's spokeswoman Melody McDonald Lanier said the case was not pursued after it was determined the gun discharged accidentally.

After leaving the reserves, Alexis worked as a waiter and delivery driver at the Happy Bowl Thai restaurant in White Settlement, a suburb of Fort Worth, according to Afton Bradley, a former co-worker. The two overlapped for about eight months before Alexis left in May, Bradley said.

Having traveled to Thailand, Alexis learned some Thai and could speak to Thai customers in their native language. "He was a very nice person," Bradley said in a phone interview. "It kind of blows my mind away. I wouldn't think anything bad at all."

A former acquaintance, Oui Suthametewakul, said Alexis lived with him and his wife from August 2012 to May 2013 in Fort Worth, but that they had to part ways because he wasn't paying his bills. Alexis was a "nice guy," Suthametewakul said, though he sometimes carried a gun and would frequently complain about being the victim of discrimination.

Suthametewakul said Alexis had converted to Buddhism and prayed at a local Buddhist temple. "We are all shocked. We are nonviolent. Aaron was a very good practitioner of Buddhism. He could chant better than even some of the Thai congregants," said Ty Thairintr, a congregant at Wat Budsaya, a Buddhist temple in Fort Worth.

Thairintr said Alexis told him he was upset with the Navy because "he thought he never got a promotion because of the color of his skin. He hated his commander." As Thairintr and others at the temple understood, Alexis took a job as a contractor and he indicated to them he was going to go to Virginia. He last saw him five weeks ago.

"He was a very devoted Buddhist. There was no tell-tale sign of this behavior," Thairintr said. In the early 2000s, before he moved to Seattle, Alexis lived with his mother in an apartment in Queens, N.Y., said Gene Demby, of Philadelphia, who said he dated one of Alexis' younger sisters at the time. He said Alexis and his two younger sisters had a difficult relationship with their father, who divorced their mother in the mid-1990s.

"I wouldn't call him nice, but he seemed harmless, if really awkward," said Demby, the lead writer for NPR's Code Switch blog about race and culture. "He was insecure. He was like a barbershop conspiracy theorist, the kind of guy who believes he's smarter than everyone else. He also was kind of like perpetually aggrieved, but not megalomaniacal or delusional."

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which offers online courses in aviation and aerospace, confirmed that Alexis was enrolled as an online student via its Fort Worth campus, started classes in July 2012 and was pursuing a bachelor's of science in aeronautics.

"We are cooperating fully with investigating officials," the university said.

Associated Press writers Mike Baker and Phuong Le in Seattle, Nomaan Merchant in Dallas, John L. Mone in White Settlement, Texas, and Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Lolita C. Baldor, Ben Nuckols and Brett Zongker in Washington contributed to this report. Original article

Additional copy (note: this article was retrieved from a site that only houses them temporarily and the back up copy NPR article omitted two paragraphs which were in the temporary article.)

They came up with many of these details surprisingly quickly; it usually takes more time to report on the background that has already come out and there will almost certainly be more. The warning signs that they did already report on also indicate that there were almost certainly additional signs before them, if he follows patterns found in most if not all other violent offenders that have been thoroughly investigated in the past.

This means that if they could recognize these signs and educate the public about them then much more could be done to prevent these activities in the future. It also means that policy makers could learn from them when hiring people and training them for future military activities. The problem, as I have previously tried to indicate, is that many of the characteristics that make soldiers effective are often very similar to those that make them potentially dangerous as well.

There were several violent incidents in his past and one of them took place before he joined the Navy reserves! Another one took place while he was in the reserves and they still kept him in and they didn't even revoke his security clearance.

As I previously indicated in Does child abuse and bullying lead to more violence? and Child abuse and bullying link in study long over due there is an enormous amount of evidence to indicate that most if not all violent offenders, especially the serious ones, had a history of some form of abuse early in life that almost certainly escalated later on. This typically starts with early punishment at a young age that often involves corporal punishment of some sort or a worse form of abuse, then escalates later in life to bullying and hazing and this also escalates in the military where boot camp is used to train people to obey orders without question.

It is too early to assume that there was abuse in Aaron Alexis' past without further investigation but if he follows the pattern that most if not all other violent offenders have then there almost certainly was, although there is no guarantee what form that abuse may have taken. This is also fairly common among military personal as I indicated in a post about Itzcoatl Ocampo who was also a veteran who committed violent crimes and there are many more. The military seeks out people with an Authoritarian upbringing and they continue to train people in that manner through boot camp and beyond. They want people that obey orders and are desensitized to violence so that they will kill when it is their job.

We have the information that we need to dramatically make these event much less common but instead of educating the public about them the government continues to use their understanding about this to train people to obey orders.

Unfortunately instead of thoroughly investigating the problem including the long term contributing causes it appears as if the media and political establishment are already following the usual pattern by dismissing it as a "cowardly act" as Barack Obama already called it, although he claims it will be "swiftly and 'thoroughly' investigated" the clearly biased claim that this is "cowardly" when he was shooting at people from the most powerful military in the world indicates otherwise. It has become routine to declare those that oppose us as cowards even when they face overwhelming odds and those that support us as brave even when they use drones to kill people half way around the world.

He must be using an interesting and selective dictionary that suits his propaganda purposes.

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