Shooting in Washington Navy Yard
At around 8:20 a.m. Monday morning, Aaron Alexis opened fire inside the Washington Navy Yard, killing at least 12 and leaving 14 injured. The event created widespread panic until officials identified and promptly shot the 34-year-old gunman. Alexis allegedly used an AR-15 assault rifle and a handgun. Investigators are still unsure of the motive.
At the time of the event Alexis was working as a computer contractor but had formerly been a full-time Navy reservist between 2007 through early 2011. The New York Times writes that he was discharged after exhibiting a ‘pattern of misbehavior’ but no further detail was given. It is believed that Alexis possessed an access card to the Navy Yard for the work he was dong as a contractor.
“It was three gunshots straight in a row—pop, pop, pop,” witness Patricia Ward recalls, “three seconds later, it was pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, so it was like about a total of seven gunshots, and we just started running.” Another witness recounted that the gunman shot from an overlook hallway on the fourth floor, aiming at the cafeteria below (CBS News, “Aaron Alexis’ motive in Navy Yard shooting still unclear”, 9.17.13.).
Recent reports indicate that this was not Alexis’s first run-in with the law. According to CBS News, Alexis had two prior arrests, both of which involved firearms although no one was injured. The first arrest occurred in Seattle, in which Alexis shot the tires of someone’s car during “an anger-fueled ‘blackout’” as stated by the Seattle Police Department. His father told the cops that his son suffered from anger issues associated with PTSD following rescue efforts during the 9/11 attacks. Sources reported to NBC News that Alexis had been treated for multiple psychological issues including anger, paranoia, and sleep deprivation.
The Navy Yard is home to around 18000 workers, with around 3000 working within the headquarters where the shooting took place. Initially police assumed two men were part of the attack. There was no evidence, however to support this. According to the Washington post, one employee at the Navy Yard was found in a locker after having hidden for little less then 11 hours (Washington Post, “Authorities identify seven of the 12 people killed in Navy Yard shooting”, 9.17.13.).
This event marks the District’s largest death toll since the 1982 in which a passenger flight crashed into the Potomac River, killing 78.
UN meets over Syrian weapons removal
The UN Security Council met this Tuesday in New York to begin talks concerning the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.
Since news of the attacks, the Obama administration fought for support for an airstrike despite heated national debate and Russian opposition to U.S. involvement. Pentagon press secretary George Little assures citizens that US attacks are still a possibility, “The credible threat of military force has been key to driving diplomatic progress, and it’s important that the Assad regime lives up to its obligations under the framework agreement” (NY Times, “U.S. and Russia Reach deal to Destroy Syria’s Chemical Arms”, 9.14.13).
The “Framework” agreement requires that the Syrian government provide a list of their chemical arsenal, including the types, amounts, and locations of weapons. In November, inspections will check the arsenal sites to see if the equipment used to make the weapons has been destroyed.
Critics of the deal are skeptical that Assad will cooperate, making it virtually ineffective, however, Secretary of State John Kerry expressed the hope that, “if fully implemented, this framework can provide greater protection and security to the world.” Others are worried over the safety of international inspectors since the rebel fighters have already confirmed they will not cease-fire while disarmament takes place.
Talks between the 5 permanent UN Council members did not achieve much due to disagreements over what action should be taken if Assad refuses to comply. The United States and France are pushing to permit military action. Russia won’t support any resolution that authorizes such force (CNN, “Syria: There’s a Chemical Weapons Agreement. Now What?” 9.16.13).
Syrian rebel forces expressed frustration at US inaction. In a televised speech on Tuesday, Syrian opposition chief Ahmad Jarba, expressed support for Chapter VII and disappointment with the international community for “keeping silent on the crimes of the regime” (Al Jazeera, “Syrian Opposition Leader Urges Use of Force”, 9.17.13). Many in his coalition fear that without immediate action attacks “odious crimes” are likely to continue.
—Debbie Altman, Guest Reporter