Many questions still surround gunman Aaron Alexis‘ rampage at the Washington Navy Yard. Among the ever-changing slew of information and rampant curiosity has been one overarching question: Why would Alexis commit such a grisly crime?
While police have been unable to give a definitive answer, a new interview with the purported killer’s ex-stepfather, Frank Calderon and some comments from a friend, who said that Alexis “was not happy with America,” offer up surprising new details about the murderer.
Calderon told The Daily Mail that Alexis may have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of personally witnessing the 9/11 terror attacks back in 2001. While mentions of Sept. 11 have emerged as a potential contributing factor to his mental state, Calderon expounded upon these tidbits to provide a grander picture of his stepson’s purported involvement in the aftermath.
To begin, Calderon said that Alexis was on an escalator from the subway below the World Trade Center when one of the towers collapsed. At the time, the young man was working in IT in a nearby building and he reportedly witnessed some of the most disturbing and chaotic moments.
“That day was traumatic for everyone involved. He did not talk much about it, but he said he helped out,” Calderon told the outlet, noting that his son claimed to have assisted in helping people trapped in the rubble.
CBS News notes that Alexis was an employee at the Borough of Manhattan Community College at the time the towers were attacked. His job was, indeed, very near the World Trade Center, however the outlet also reports that a preliminary probe provides no evidence that the gunman helped out with rescues at the scene.
While it is possible that he helped informally, this information is certainly intriguing and creates additional questions about Alexis’ experience at the scene and how much that might have changed him.
Through tears, Calderon went on to explain his shock that the boy he had cared for and loved for so many years could commit such horrific atrocities.
“What happened in Washington was not from the Aaron I knew and loved,” said the grieving stepfather. “Growing up he was a loving boy. He was a kind boy. There was not violence. In all the years I was with him there was no hint of any violence.”
While Calderon said that there were no initial signs of PTSD, in 2004, the Daily Mail notes that the shooter’s birth father also told police that his son was suffering from PTSD as a result of the 9/11 terror attacks. The father’s statement came after Alexis was arrested in Seattle for shooting out a construction worker’s tires.
Calderon, who has not spoken to his stepson since 2007, said that the last time he heard from Alexis, he was joining the military. After splitting with the gunman’s mother, Calderon kept in contact with him for quite some time, but at some point a few years back, he lost touch.
Now, the father is stunned and pained by what unfolded.
“What took place the other day is not something that I can ever understand,” he told the Daily Mail. “I wish I had the words to explain, but I don’t. My thought are not with Aaron but for the victims. My prayers are with their families and I just want to say how sorry I am. Why would he do this?”
Answering that question is a difficult task and one that authorities are still attempting. In addition to the alleged impact of the 9/11 attacks, Alexis was also said to obsessively play violent video games. Additionally, he was purportedly suffering from a host of mental illnesses, including a sleep disorder and paranoia.
But perhaps most notably, the shooter was also apparently hearing voices in his head (read TheBlaze’s full report about these issues). Calderon said that, if true, his stepson should have had help in coping with these problems.
“Military veterans should be given the red carpet treatment. They should get all the healthcare they need and be helped to get jobs,” he said. “What kind of country are we that a veteran comes back and he has to work in McDonalds. That is not treating them right.”
TheBlaze previously reported that Alexis did have some gun-related incidents that led to run-ins with authorities:
On May 6, 2004, two construction workers saw Alexis “pull a gun from his waistband and fire three shots into the two rear tires of their Honda,” according to Seattle Police. The workers apparently told police he had been upset over the parking situation nearby and had “stared” construction workers down every day over the past month.
Alexis told police he had been “mocked” by the workers and had an anger-fueld “blackout.” Seattle Police also say he told them he was present during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and explained “how those events had disturbed him.”
Seattle detectives talked to Alexis’ father, who said he suffered from anger management problems associated with PTSD.
Alexis was also arrested in September 2010 for accidentally discharging a firearm, according to a police report obtained by KXAS-TV. However, the documents reportedly indicate he was never officially charged.
The police report reveals that a woman called police in September 2010 after she heard a “loud pop” and saw a “hole in her floor.”
Police then interviewed Alexis who said that “he did have a gun” and claimed to be “cleaning it when it went off.” A gun cleaning kit was found near the firearm.
“After investigating the situation, Aaron was taken to 350 W. Belknap and booked,” the police report concludes.
And as Daily Mail later noted, there also may be an additional disorderly conduct charge, for which Alexis purportedly spent two nights in jail in DeKalb County, Ga. There are initially few details about this alleged incident, but WXIA-TV reports that Alexis was allegedly kicked out of a nightclub after damaging furniture in 2008. He purportedly spent two days in jail before posting bond.
Kristi Suthamtewkal, a friend of Alexis whose husband owns the Thai Bowl Restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, where the gunman once worked, said that the assailant was “not happy with America,” and that he “felt slighted as a veteran and he was ready to move out of the country.”
Read the entire interview with Calderon over at The Daily Mail.
(H/T: Daily Mail)