Navy Gunman’s Mom: ‘I Don’t Know Why He Did It’

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Once inside, Alexis picked a handgun off an officer and, armed with two weapons, terrorized the building’s occupants.

He fired relentlessly not only at police who engaged him but at the workers inside: a 61-year-old marine engineer and grandfather who immigrated to the U.S. years ago from India, a Navy veteran and avid pilot who had once been stationed at Pearl Harbor, a die-hard Washington Redskins fan known for generous bear hugs. A Washington police officer was shot multiple times in the legs but survived.

“We just started running,” said Patricia Ward, who was in the cafeteria when the shooting began. She said she heard three gunshots in a row, followed by several more.

Descriptions from witnesses and police paint a portrait of harrowing gun battles inside — all for more than half an hour. The FBI, which launched a nationwide active shooter training program for local law enforcement after last December’s Connecticut elementary school massacre, says the average mass shooting is over within minutes and often ends once police arrive.

But this gun battle kept going. As the chaos unraveled inside, police in the nation’s capital shut down the surrounding area. Nearby schools went on lockdown, flights were halted at Reagan National Airport, and even after Alexis was mortally wounded by a police officer, officers chased leads that a second and possibly a third gunman had been working with him.

Twelve victims died — a body count that police say could have been much higher, even after they determined that the gunman had worked alone. Eight were injured, with all expected to survive.

The Navy said several garages and all surface parking lots at the Washington Navy Yard would open Wednesday for employees to retrieve their private vehicles. But the military installation would reopen for business for Mission Essential personnel only. In a posting on its Facebook page, the Navy said the yard remains an active crime scene.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the Pentagon to review the physical security of all U.S. defense facilities worldwide and the security clearances that allow access to them. Hagel is also tasking an independent panel to undertake the same reviews. He said Wednesday “where there are gaps, we will close them.”

More than 24 hours after the shooting, the motive remained a mystery. U.S. law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that investigators had found no manifesto or other writings suggesting a political or religious motivation.

Ron Machen, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, ticked off some of the unanswered questions Tuesday.

“What caused this individual to kill so many innocent men and women? How did he carry out and plan this attack? How did he get access to the weapons? What could have been done to prevent this tragedy? And most importantly, whether anyone else aided or assisted him either wittingly or unwittingly in this tragedy?”

Machen added, “We’re not going to stop until we get answers to those questions.”

(Photo: AP)

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