The deaths of Aaron Alexis and the 12 people he killed were preventable

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Good afternoon:

The L.A. Times has two articles that leave little doubt that Aaron Alexis had suffered a psychotic break and was delusional when he shot and killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard.

In the first article, Richard A. Serrano, David Cloud and Molly Hennessy-Fiske tell us that he heard voices:

Six weeks ago, Aaron Alexis told people someone had threatened him at an airport in Virginia. A few days later, in Rhode Island, he heard voices. He thought people were speaking to him through “the walls, floor and ceiling” of the Navy base there, where he was working.

In his hotel room, the voices used “some sort of microwave machine” to send vibrations through the ceiling and into his body, a police report shows him saying. He could not sleep.

Alexis frequently moved as part of his contract work at military installations from New England to North Carolina; he arrived in Washington on Aug. 25. He switched hotels several times until Sept. 7, when he finally settled into the Residence Inn — a mile from his new workplace at the historic Washington Navy Yard on the capital’s waterfront.

On Saturday he visited a gun shop in the Virginia suburbs. He practiced firing a rifle, then purchased a Remington 870 shotgun and 24 shells. The short-barrel weapon, known popularly as a “riot gun,” is commonly used by police and the military.

In the second article, Richard A. Serrano informs us about two messages that Mr. Alexis carved into the wooden stock of his shotgun:

The shooter who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday carved two cryptic messages into the wooden stock of his shotgun – “(Better Off This Way)” and “(My ELF)” — according to a federal law enforcement official.

The messages appear to be the first clue into Aaron Alexis’ possible motive for attacking the base at the start of the work week after spending weeks drifting up and down the East Coast and complaining of hearing voices and believing he was being stalked by three unknown officials.

The messages were carved by either a knife or some other instrument into the wooden stock of the Remington 870 Express shotgun that Alexis bought two days before the shooting, the official said. “The first one (Better Off This Way) seems to have him saying he wanted to kill fellow workers or maybe expected to die himself,” the official said.

The second one, (My ELF), appeared to be a reference to “extremely low frequency,” and could refer to his belief that someone was penetrating his brain with microwave messages, which he had described to police in Newport, R.I., six weeks ago.

In the fall of 2003, Crane and I received an odd telephone call from a student we knew at Seattle University. The call seemed odd because he claimed loud voices in the walls of his apartment had prevented him from sleeping for several days. We decided to pay him a visit.

He admitted us to his apartment after we convinced him that we were not two impostors attempting to trick him into opening the door.

We spent about an hour checking his apartment and the rest of the building, which contained four apartments above an underground parking lot. We did not hear any voices or see anything out of order.

Because he remained uncharacteristically anxious and fearful, we invited him to come and stay with us for a few days. Fortunately, he accepted our invitation.

This incident kicked-off a bizarre month in which Crane and I took him to see mental health professionals and alternated sleeping during the night so that one of us would always be awake. The diagnosis was always the same: Rapid Repeating Bipolar Disorder with Paranoid Delusions. He disagreed with the diagnoses because the delusions were so real to him that he could not distinguish them from ordinary reality and the anti-psychotic medication dulled his senses.

We finally persuaded him to voluntarily enter a secure mental health treatment hospital after a couple of property destruction incidents in our home and a threat to kill us in our sleep.

There is no known cure for this condition, but the delusions can be smoothed out and managed with appropriate anti-psychotic medication. Fortunately for our friend, his parents can afford to pay for his health care and medication.

Had his financial circumstances been otherwise, he would be homeless, in jail or dead.

Mr. Alexis’s story is worse than any horror movie could be because it is real and the tragic result was so preventable.

Take care of your brothers and sisters when they are sick, because if you don’t, no one else will.


24 Responses to The deaths of Aaron Alexis and the 12 people he killed were preventable

  1. Tzar says:

    if you include body counts of 4 or more, then there have been 250 mass shootings in the first 260 days of 2013

    Because of crony capitalism and the NRA lobby, this is problem that will need to get much worse before the stench causes the public to demand change

  2. Deborah Moore says:

    Fred, you and Rachel are truly angels for helping that student. You helped everyone, really.
    The struggle continues.

  3. Malisha says:

    “He was probably the best cell mate I’ve ever had.”

    PRECIOUS! Colin Black, you are an experience! What would we ever do, poorer we’d be, without you! Live long and proper!

  4. colin black says:

    In contrast an one of my friends I mention whom has mental issues was a Hells Angel called Blue an I met him as a cell mete in jail he was 6 ft 8 an yet emaciated a former Seargent in Arms in the Angelll an had be classified insane on 13 occasins.

    He had walked out of a mental hospital an smashed up a bus shelter.

    He gave the athoaraties a bogus ID an he was remanded to the local small town Jail called Lewes.

    I was there comeing of a heroin habit so requested a single cell an as there were a few available double cells bubk beds but only one inhabitant I was lucky.

    I prefer the solitude as theres nothing worse than an irritateing cell mate

    An practicly everyone you meets iritateing in jail

    And comeing of heroin you shit or more apy piss shit through an eye of a needle its beyond dioreah an very very frequent an bear in mind Im going back 30 years were a plastic bin was your toilet you had to shit in an piss in an slop out in the mornings.

    So I wanted priveacy for that reason also an for the first two weeks I got it my whithdrawls were over an I was eating an manageing some sleep.

    That’s when I met Blue he was in his early thirtys back then .I found out his story from other sourses an him over the years.

    I don’t think he was ever that tightly wound but he tottaly unravelled whilst out bikeing with his best friend on the pillion .

    Rideing through twisting country lanes in Coirnwalll at night at speed as you can tell if on comeing traffics ahead through the headlights.

    Cows don’t haave headlights an he crashed into one standing in the middle of the lane.

    He has unhurt but his friend went careering through the air .

    He was also they both were tripping there balls of .

    His freeing went through a hedge that had a wire running through it an was decapitated an Blue came up on both his head an body layin g in the field an that was what sent him over the edge I meat him about ten years after the accident.

    I spent three weeks in the cell with Blue an off course I knew whom he was soon after he enterd the cell he told me things in bits an pieces .

    I realised he was far from the full shilling but he was brilliant an not in the least threating.

    His delussions an beleifs were so intresting an consistent he would talk to me for hours about the 48 levels of Hell an how he was the oonly person alive to ever have taken on the Deil an won an returned to Earth or this is the first level of hell apparently.

    He achieved this feat by convinceing Lucifer he would be his emmicery on earth a HELLS AGEL so tospeak an tricked him by not doing his bidding ect.

    An his storys were not ramblings or incherent they were constant you could ask him something he had said day s erlier an he would recount it exactly the same.

    After about a month the screws came an said they were takeing him to see a lawer.

    An ten minutes later the landing screw unlocked me an told me you will never believe it but tthat guy you’ve been locked up with isn’t whom he said he was.

    He is an escaped Mental Patient didn’t you notice anything strange about him?

    No says I he was probably the best cell mate Ive ever had.

    And I was telling the truth I bumped into Blue a couple of years later at Knsbworth music festival an we kept in touch a truly brilliant bloke mad as a box of Frogs but a gentile soul

  5. colin black says:

    The reason my Wifes bed is in our living room is because its a hospital bed an doesn’t collapse an was to large to fit up the stairs.

  6. colin black says:

    I have one as a neighbour right now my story is similar to yours except he wasn’t a student just some gut dumped into the community in wich the UK call care in the community.

    I live in a small block os 4 house specialy catered for people vulnerable or in need of care.

    Forinstance my Wife is bed bound due to osti perriosis an has had suffered three heart attacks in the last seven years is diabetic has lynphandemia in fact its would be easier to say what ailments She doesn’t have .

    My imeadiate Neighbour is 94 so its easy to see what her vulnrabiltes are .

    An theres two propertys ajoining ours out back wich makes 4 homes in all No 1 2 3 an 4

    No 4 guy is in a wheelchair one of them rascal type thingies an is great been there 12 years no problem Same with Betty the 94 year ols Shes been hear 25 years an was the first resident in I suppose in her 70 s We have lived here 15 years.

    Well a couple years ago a youngish chap turned out he was 24 moved into no3.

    An to be honest in retro spect there were a few odd insidents Involveing him but he presented in such a soft spoken almost simple manner even although he was big an some what over weight .

    He seemed non threatening an I kind of got the special needs vibe off him.I know that sounds patroniseing but that’s what went through my mind.

    I also couldn’t have envisioned a housing association that specialised in housing vulnerable tenants would place some one dangerous in there midsts

    Like I said a couple of strange inncidents like him acuseing me of slamming metal gates to a bin shed every night at three am?An he had only been ther a matter of days .

    I explained it wasn’t me that I take out the trash foe both us an a 94 year old Lady every second day an at lunchtime certainly not at three AM.

    An I asked him how do you know or think it was me an he blitghly said oh I knoiw its you as you look very distinctive .I thought what in the pitch black but just left it an walked away.

    An rhat was it basicly for two years the odd nod or greeting here an ther but unlike our other three neighbours he never exchanges xmas cards or seemed to be sociable wich is fine an dandy with me..

    Untill a pc in a parcel sent to his address ended up at ours as he wasn’t in when it was delivered an we agreed to the parcel guy to look after it .

    Fate eh…Anyway turns out he was of on holiday with his on an also off her head girl friend

    They met in therapy apparently.Ended up with two fruit loops for the price off one.

    I come home one day to find my wife as white as a sheet an this guy sitting in our front room yapping away to Gail having come round to collect the parcelll an my wife being bed bound he just walked in uninvited an made him self at home.

    An that was the beginning of our nightmare he basicly turned into my bed bound wifes stalker an when you hasve a phycotic neighbour whom is obsessed with not only your wife but very overly keen on the pain medication she has to take to control her conditions its not optimum let me tell you.

    This guy an his demented girl friend tried to inflict themselves into our lifes.

    A 26 year olf guy strong as an ox physivally fine an yet constsantly whineing about how fucked up his life is an because we gave him one iota of co9ncern when he feigned wanting to commit suicide one hight asking me to buy x amount os asprins foor him as he wasn’t allowed.

    An obvios cry for attention so me an the Missus spent 6 fucking hours from 10 pm till 4 am talkin g him out of his fax suiside I should’ve fucking helped him.

    That was it next day round telling us how good he felt an how thankfull he was ect

    Fine ok bye close the door couplre of hours later he is back with flowers an chocolates to give to Gail .

    So it came to me having to give him what I though was a polite ancordial request to cease an dissist from constantly ringing our buzzer sevral times a day.

    He isn’t our bff an not a family member nor a pet an please e have our oewn issues just leave us alone.

    So I didn’t want to worry my Wife with my concerns I made the mistake of not informing her of my conversations as I never expected the little fucke…in reality huse….to defy me!

    Id go out an as a neighbour he would wait until Id done so an rush round on the pretext of some bs get Gail to open the door an march in an he would be sitting there smileing looking atme defeintly an smug as in he had bested me for gails affections is the oinlyy way I could describe it?

    Any way he was talking some crazy crazy shit about killing his therapist because they say he is a sex offender blah blAH for having sex with his GF when she is asleep

    An Im like WOA we captured all his ramplings on the pc thank fuck

    An Im like saying to him S T FU do you realise what your saying

    You don’t tell peple strangers this kind of stuff .

    We don’t want to know we don’t neeed to know its private medical info that if the wrong person hears could DESTROY YOUR LIFE.

    An he is glareing at me like a petulant child eyes blazeing with HATE.

    That’s the onlyway to describe it an boy was I right

    I asked him to leave after all that killing his therapist an sex offender crap plus as he was saying it he had his leg oin Gails bed frame a hospital bed I couldn’t see luckily but as he was recounting his tales of wanting to kill his therapists for acuseing him of being a sex offender he was kicking into her bed vibrateing up an down an Gail has brittle bone disease not that he would have a clue about any ones illnesses but his own imagined ones.

    Believe me Ive been in jail Ive met serial killers yet ive never met or encountered a person with so much hate in them as this mo fo

    I wouldn’t havebeleived it unless Id heard it with my own ears..

    Thhe next again day I had to go out around five pm to collect some prescripptions for Gail an on the way back get some Chinease food carry out all told I was gone an hour I told Gail under no circumstances let fruit loop in.

    About ten mins after I leave the buzzer/ intercom goes an it him

    Shouting an banging on the door inchomprehenciable.

    Gail couldn’t understand an he was knocking an banging the door so loudly an yelling my name over an obvver she pressed the buxzzer an he came bowling in luckily she has a DXL Nintendo I think that has vt record capabilities so she put than on an made out as if she was playing a game.

    Whilst this guy vented

    An boy Ive had people prolly not to keen on me in the past but this guys hatred off me was EPIC an Id hardly even exchanged a couple of sentances with him over a two year period.

    If you listen to this guy I was his son of SAM tHe DEVIL INCARNATE An not only the cause off all His woes an troubles but I was the cause an reason of all evil in the world

    How I had stopped him from having a life I didn’t understand his problems.Iwas scratching through his bed room wall every nigh to keep him awake.When Gail pointed out we had no ajoining walls he claimed Id trained a rat to do it.

    On an on he kept spewing out all thease lies an virturall telling Gaill how much I hated him an had made his life a misery again with the trash he said evey time I put trash out I come an dump it on his front door step.

    An he knows I abuse my cat an Gail an that he is going to be her knight in shining armour he is going to come in take over an end all my wickedness.

    And about this time I arrived home an things got really bad realy quick

    And remember I had no clue what my Wife had endured for the last hour an Ive only told you a fraction of his madness an absurd delussions I have no idea if they were genuine or iff he has all this hate he can just transfer from person to person an I was just his latest person to direct it at.

    Ihadnt had a chance to listen to his ramblings an had no clue how long he had been there.

    Im standing there with a bag of medications in one hand an a bag of chineases tin trays of food in in the other.My Wife is ashen faced an burste into tears an this big lump is purple faced an just flys at me catches me tottaly unawares an pushes me into a corner pinning me with a forearm across my throat .

    He has about 4 stone on me plus surprise pluss he is half my age an although I could have done him with a head butt an proceeded to infl8ict harm onto him it would have entailed 16 stones landing on top of my disssabled wife I had to take it as his fetid breatyheing in my face telling me what a blah blah blah blah blah I was an then he steppe3d back tried to slam the door but a door mat stopped it so he re entered moved the door mat so he could slam the door so hard the entire room shoock as did the neighbours .

    All the while yelling obscenities about me mainly pertaining to me being the worst person on the planet,

    And then I got the entire story after the three hours it took me to stop my wife from crying the police turned up not through us but another neighbour whom heard the commotion hech the entire neighbourhood heard his yelling an cussing.

    We then find out he had also threatened to kill George the neighbour at No 4 his imeadate neighbour out back 5 weeks prior he like us declined to press criminal charges.

    Although we both complained to the housing association whom say his theraopists are confident he can be managed through medication.

    I have friends with mental issues whom live in the community an are care in the community an are managed.

    An every morning a worker comes rain or shine to give them watch them take there medication.An in the teo years he has been there an the months since this happened theres been no care worker or nurse round to his house nada.

    Just shows you a wee thing like watching a parcel for a neighbour can impact your life or even end it

  7. Trained Observer says:

    Can’t help but note the comments from Aaron Alexis’ mother made off screen and broadcast tonight on NBC news … quietly stating she did not know what happened to or with her son, but that she was glad he could no longer hurt anyone.

    Contrast that with the tasteless drivel from Fogens parents.

    • cielo62 says:

      Trained Observer- I noted the same thing. She also expressed sadness for the victims. Something a fucking zidiot is incapable of doing.

      Sent from my iPad

      • Trained Observer says:

        @ceilo …Yes, I feel for Alexis’ mother, knowing she likely will be targeted by racists and other haters.

        But she stepped forward in a timely manner (as did Castro’s family), and I hope having done the right thing brings her some measure of peace.

  8. Two sides to a story says:

    So sad. My father is bipolar – there are many bipolar people in my family – but he is one of few who suffered a delusional break (in his case, provoked by basic training in the army in the early ’50s during the Korean War). Fortunately, he didn’t become violent, but he did become fearful and wandered around base thinking people were after him, and he was hospitalized after a few days.

    Your student was so lucky to have you and Crane looking after him!

  9. Kate says:

    Watching someone break down before your eyes is scary. I had a professor once that told me he had a student that came into his office and kept yelling at his shoes. He said David Letterman was talking to him through his shoes and he would not be quiet.

    I had to do clinicals at the state mental facility in my state as part of my course curriculum. It is a little frightening but at the same time extremely sad because there isn’t much you can do for people with incurable mental diseases. The only thing we, as students, could do was to talk to them and not aid in their delusions by telling them that what they are hearing and seeing is not there. It’s tough when there is little to no room to house these individuals or the funds to care for them. I suppose something on a disastrous scale needs to happen before anything is done. I suppose Sandy Hook wasn’t bad enough.

  10. Soulcatcher says:


    My ex has a cousin, I’m not sure what her diagnosis is. She was a very normal person with 4 children. One day she lost it. At times she knows who you are, can carry an intelligant conversation, and at other times, she doesn’t know who you are, is in her own littlle world, sits and talks to herself, and smokes ciggerates all the way down until she burns her fingers. She knows where she lives, and can take care of .herself. Three of the children are now grown, but I know the last one she had about 15 years ago, they took her when she was born and gave her to her sister to raise.

    So I guess if you encountered her in her normal state, which I would say is about 50% of the time, you would never guess she had mental problems.

    • Rachael says:

      even when you can, there isn’t necessarily. anything you can do. there was a guy here who went into a local neighborhood little place where there was live music and people would hang out and shot the place up. His family was devastated. They do something was wrong with him and they had tried for years and years and years to get help. It’s not always that easy. And after that story came out lots of people came forward to trying to tell a story is about the family members who they could not get the help they felt they needed for.

  11. fauxmccoy says:

    bless you both for doing what you did. i know for a fact how rough it can be. your month of experience is so very similar to my life long experience with my father. bi-polar with delusions and paranoia is rough to be around. no amount of family support could get him to maintain his meds, but he was held on the 72 hour involuntary hold many times. a few times he actually admitted himself. the arsenal he kept was not exactly reassuring either.

    my dad’s illness kind of burned out when he was 60 — not that his thoughts/behavior were ever ‘normal’, his body just could not keep up with what his mind was telling him to do. for that, i am grateful. suicide was always a very real option and homicide was another. i’m glad it never came to that, but it sure got too close for comfort too many times.

    bless y’all, i hope your friend has found some level of peace.

  12. crazy1946 says:

    It would seem strange that I can’t even get into the building that houses the IRS with my car keys in my pocket, yet this man can enter into a top security facility with a shot gun? Hmmm, what’s wrong with this picture? I’ve read the stories, I’ve listened to the press releases, yet something about this story does not ring true… Perhaps expecting the full truth from our government is asking for too much?

    • When you have the right credentials, you are permitted to bypass security.

      He had the right credentials when he was in the Navy. They were terminated when he resigned 2 years ago and reissued to him without investigation after Express hired him. He needed the clearances to do his job.

  13. kllypyn says:

    I’m no expert,but his mental problems should have been obvious to anyone he encountered

  14. Soulcatcher says:

    Iv’e known a couple of people Paranoid Delusions, but were caused by the drugs they were on. In was my grandfather, while in the hospital he could hear voice from the clock on the wall, and they were watching him. The other two were meth users, and they were always being followed or watched. One was so bad, he would close all the curtins in the house, because they were around the corner, or in the bushes. It was either the police or the fbi. Neither wanted help, and they both end up in prison for shooting someone.

    • Very important to remember that the delusions are as real to the person experiencing them as ordinary reality is to us. They cannot tell the difference

      • fauxmccoy says:

        fred, this is critical. their reality is just that, their reality. i did not understand it well as a child with my dad, but school and experience lead me to that conclusion. those delusions to him were as real as the physical world which surrounds me.

  15. cielo62 says:

    How many deaths will take it til we see, that too many people have died?

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