Navy Shipyard Shooter 'Not Happy with America'

Wednesday, 18 Sep 2013 11:53 AM

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The man who police say shot and killed 12 people in a Washington Naval shipyard was so unhappy with his life in America — where he was beset by money woes and felt slighted as a veteran — that he was "ready to move out of the country" last year, NBC News reports.

Aaron Alexis had repeated incidents of apparent mental illness and reportedly called police to complain about people following him and to say that he was hearing voices. He sought mental health treatment from a nearby VA hospital, NBC's Pete Williams reported Wednesday.

But a close friend also told NBC that Alexis “was tired of dealing with the government.” Nevertheless, the former Navy reservist relocated from Texas to Virginia, where an IT company called The Experts put him on a government contract at the Washington Navy Yard.

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Alexis was “not happy with America,” and he “felt slighted as a veteran and he was ready to move out of the country,” said Kristi Suthamtewkal, whose husband owns the Thai Bowl Restaurant in Fort Worth, where Alexis worked in exchange for room and board.

He also was apparently obsessed with the 9/11 attack. But investigators told NBC Tuesday that a preliminary probe has turned up no evidence that Alexis participated in rescue operations at Ground Zero, as his father once told police.

Police did discover, though, that Alexis was employed as a clerical worker at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, in the shadow of the Twin Towers, when they were destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001.

“He talked about 9/11 and where he was and how the buildings had collapsed and he couldn’t believe that...and how he was upset with the terrorists for taking innocent lives," said Suthamtewkal.

Melinda Downs, who took in Alexis after he moved out of the Suthamtewkals' house last year, said he told her he suffered from post-traumatic stress after "surviving 9/11 in New York."

Military officials acknowledged to NBC and other media outlets that Alexis had disciplinary issues including absence without permission, insubordination and disorderly conduct.

He was arrested in September 2010 by Fort Worth police after he accidentally fired a bullet into the apartment above him while he was cleaning a gun with slippery hands. Prosecutors determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to bring a recklessness case.

Alexis at some point began an online course in aeronautics with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He worshiped at a Buddhist Temple and was befriended by Suthamtewkal's husband, Oui, who " took him under his wing and took care of him."
He was given a room at their house in exchange for help at the restaurant, where he was one of the more popular waiters.

"Everybody loved him," Kristi Suthamtewkal said.

He spent a lot of time in his room, burning incense, she said. Michael Ritrobato, a handyman at the restaurant, said Alexis played violent online video games but was good-natured, not angry.

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After he returned from a contract job in Japan in Nov. 2012, he didn't seem as easy-going, though.

He felt like he had been cheated out of money from the contract and complained that he was mistreated because he was black, Kristi Suthamtewkal said.


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