The Washington Navy Yard shooting that left 12 people dead in September could have been prevented, a Defense Department internal review released on Tuesday reveals.
It took six months to complete the review of a shooting that baffled Washington, when Aaron Alexis, a federal contractor with security clearance, drove into work on Sept. 16 with a shotgun and opened fire on his coworkers. Law-enforcement officers on the scene killed him.
After its investigation, the Defense Department review stated that there were "missed opportunities" that "may have prevented the tragic result at the Washington Navy Yard."
But the review includes one major, disconcerting caveat: "Even if those vulnerabilities had not been present, neither the personnel security process nor the physical security capability is equipped or designed to prevent the kind of violence exhibited by Aaron Alexis."
Following his service in the Navy, Alexis was treated on several occasions for psychological issues. He also had a couple of run-ins with the law for illegally discharging his weapon. While the Pentagon concedes that, individually, these events were not enough to predict this outcome, together they are damning.
These instances, the review says, should have been detected by the background investigation before he received his security clearance. His employer at the time of the shooting, a defense contracting company called the Experts, had no insight into these behaviors, nor did the company report his psychological issues to the Defense Department, the report continues.