Personal Injury Blog

Navy Yard Shooter Displayed Serious Red Flags: Why Weren't These Noticed?

Authored by: Allan M. Siegel, Esq.

Last week's Navy Yard shooting in Washington, D.C. will not soon be forgotten, especially given the overwhelming evidence that has since surfaced regarding the shooter's erratic behavior and numerous warning signs leading up to the shooting. For nine years prior to his attack, Aaron Alexis displayed erratic behavior which should have been "red flags." The gunman's violent behavior and apparently deteriorating mental health were seemingly ignored by professionals in multiple business sectors, including the Department of Defense, the VA Hospital, and more than one state law enforcement agency.

Warnings signs exhibited by Alexis went virtually unnoticed as, time and again, the gunman displayed signs of mental unease and discontent. Nine years of warning signs, which included three arrests, two gun-related incidents with the police, and at least four visits to VA hospitals, culminated in one mass shooting of innocent lives at Washington D.C.'s Navy Yard on September 16th. Now, people across the nation are asking the difficult question: Why wasn't Alexis targeted for his unstable behaviors and put on higher security because of them?

Investigations into last week's tragedy have only just begun, and already, unsettling evidence has been revealed. A number of incidents have been uncovered, each more disturbing than the last. A quick look at Alexis' behavior in the years prior to the shooting quickly reveals the gunman's instability:

  • 2004: Alexis opened fire using a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun, actions which were allegedly referred to as an "anger blackout."
  • 2008: Alexis was arrested for disorderly conduct at a nightclub.
  • 2010: Alexis was arrested for firing a gunshot into the apartment of a neighbor.
  • 2011: Alexis punched someone in the face.
  • 2013: In June, Alexis reported to police that he was being spoken to by microwaves.
  • 2013: In August, Alexis was prescribed medication for insomnia. He asked for a refill only one week later.
  • 2013: In September, Alexis purchased a gun (only 2 days before the Navy Yard shooting).

Indeed, this timeline does not take into account all of the "red flags." However, even in these few incidents, it seems more than evident that clear cause for concern existed. When all of the professionals who had interactions with Alexis prior to his attack are assessed, it raises the question of whether this terrible tragedy could have been avoided. Parties who may have potentially played a role in the shooting include:

  • Law Enforcement Agencies
  • The Military and Government
  • Alexis' Employer
  • The private firm that conducted background checks
  • Security firms that may have provided inadequate security

Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. has been representing victims and families in personal injury cases for well over 40 years. In this time, we have worked on many inadequate security cases, and cases involving negligent training, hiring and retention. We are prepared to help injured victims and families of the Navy Yard shooting file claims for personal injury, wrongful death, inadequate security, and more. To learn more about the legal services we can provide to you, contact us for a free consultation.