Veterans & Military

Washington Navy Yard Shooter Was Never ‘One of Us’

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Written By: Karen Marshall, Last modified: October 16, 2020

Aaron Alexis was never “one of us.”

He truly never earned the right to wear the Navy uniform or call himself a member of the U.S. Navy. Let’s make that clear at the start.

A dozen people died and a dozen more were injured when a lone gunman opened fire Monday morning at the historic Washington Navy Yard, spreading fear and chaos throughout the military facility and surrounding areas.

The gunman was identified as Alexis, 34, of Forth Worth, Texas. Alexis had received a less-than-honorable discharge from the Navy Reserves in 2011 for a “pattern of misbehavior” that included multiple firearms violations.

He still had access and security clearance to the Navy Yard, for some unknown reason, as a military computer contractor. That’s what we should be looking at: Why?

No One Should Have Been in Danger

Alexis died during a gun battle when police arrived on the scene after he had slaughtered the 12. Among the dead was a security officer working at the Navy Yard. One Metropolitan Police officer was wounded. Those killed by the shooter ranged in age from 46 to 73, all civilian employees, many of whom were eating breakfast in the cafeteria.

This is the same cafeteria where I have eaten many times, and never in my wildest dreams would I have considered myself in danger while eating there on such a highly-guarded base.

The Navy Yard, one of the oldest military installations in America, employs almost 16,000 employees, boh civilian and military, along the Anacostia River a few miles from the White House.

Although it was once a major Navy gun factory, it is best known today for the Naval Sea Systems Command, which is responsible for engineering, building and procuring submarines, ships and weapons. It also houses the National Museum of the U.S. Navy.

‘Never Navy Material’

It bothers me today to read or hear comments from current and former military personnel making statements about how we could be attacked by one of our own. He was not one of our own. And he was not one of us. He was not some Navy veteran who turned his weapon on his own people.

He was a screw-up. He obviously never was Navy material in the first place. All of us who served know that it takes more than some minor military infraction to get kicked out of the Navy, even the Reserves.

Somebody screwed up for letting him in. Somebody screwed up for giving him clearance as a contractor.

“It’s a shooting that targeted our military and civilian personnel. These are men and women who were going to work, doing their jobs protecting us all,” President Barack Obama said in the aftermath. “They’re patriots. They know the dangers of serving abroad, but today they faced the unimaginable violence that they wouldn’t have  expected here at home.”

So while this incident is tragic and worthy of scrutiny, I do not think that this constitutes more than a deranged and disgruntled former employee of the Navy deciding to enact some kind of disturbed revenge.

He was not one of us. He never was.

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