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Investigators Search for Clues to What Motivated Navy Yard Shooter Aaron Alexis

Investigators Search for Clues to What Motivated Navy Yard Shooter Aaron Alexis

Thirteen people are dead in Washington, D.C., after one of the worst mass shootings on a military base in American history.

Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old naval veteran and military contractor, opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday morning, killing 12 people and wounding at least eight more, before he was shot dead by law enforcement. According to reports cited in a statement by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Alexis used three guns: an AR-15, a shotgun, and a semiautomatic pistol.

The rampage brought the city to a standstill, grounding flights at Reagan National Airport and forcing schools and the U.S. Senate to go on lockdown.

Shortly after 8 a.m., Alexis entered the largest building on the 3,000-person naval base, known as Building 197, and began firing.

Patricia Ward, a 53-year old civilian employee at the naval yard, was in the cafeteria when the shooting started. She described hearing 3 shots—“pow, pow, pow”—and then a 30-second pause, followed by 4 more shots.

Another Navy yard employee, an Army veteran who declined to give his name, tells The Daily Beast that he heard a noise like “a locker falling to the ground or slamming the door.”

“I didn’t think it was gunshots,” he says. “You can’t really tell if you're not expecting it. And then I heard someone running, which was above me, and people pirouetting out of cubicles to find out what was going on.”

Navy Capt. Mark Vandroff was working in the third-floor conference room when the shooting started. He and his co-workers got down on the floor, and when they stood up, they saw two bullet holes in the wall roughly eight feet off the ground. They stayed huddled there for almost two hours until uniformed police evacuated them.

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