Aaron Alexis Warning Signs Offer Insight Into Shooter

Developments in DC Navy Yard investigation raise new questions about shooter's motivations.
27:51 | 09/18/13

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Transcript for Aaron Alexis Warning Signs Offer Insight Into Shooter
This is a special report from the -- However when I'm tired and is in New York with his ABC news digital special report. The DC navy yard investigation is now in an evidence gathering phase the FBI still trying to figure out the motive. Of the 34 year old shooter Aaron Alexis. Overnight new details about the former sailors past encounters with the -- and psychological treatment. There is -- hearing underway right now on Capitol Hill mainly about sequestration but we do believe the subject of the shooting may indeed come up. Here to tell us the latest on the investigation and the shooter let's bring in ABC's Devin Dwyer in Washington -- Good morning time and we've heard a lot about the incidents on August 7 this year in Rhode Island tell us about what happened to Aaron Lexus that. That's right law enforcement officials have obtained rather released some documents from the -- in -- August 7 in Rhode Island. -- apparently Alexis was seen in a hotel room at the time called police. And -- to notify them to complain about hearing voices voices that were in -- in his sleep. -- he told the police that that they could. Did did that these noises were in erupt in his sleep that he could not sleep that he was hearing and he believed they were sent. From some sort of microwave device. Those documents we understand. Were passed along to navy officials in the area who. We're trying to determine whether or not he was still working in an -- so bottom line here ties that there was a warning -- several warning times -- they were very disparate warning signs. They never connected the dots tonight. Discredited and not enough to affect his security clearance. That's right they're really two issues here that that authorities are looking at one is his. Security clearance and a background check allowed him to get onto a military base to work as a contractor. But also the background check that allowed him to buy a gun at a Virginia gunshot just a few days before committing this -- in this crime over navy yard. And so they're looking at how they can strengthen those two. Different components that's two different -- seen if there were any warning signs missed in background checks for both of those areas. -- I've got to tell you here at the White House President Obama has been very cautious White House officials very cautious about drawing any conclusions. About whether the shooting could have been prevented. But last night in an interview with telemundo President Obama did suggest that better background checks for gun sales may have prevented this shooting. The fact that. We do not have a firm enough background check system. Is something that makes us more vulnerable to these kinds of mass shootings and he'll do that I do get concerned that. This becomes. A ritual that we go through every 34 months where we have these horrific mass shootings and yet. We're not warned that take some basic actions that we know can make a difference. Now President Obama has called for twenty million additional dollars ask congress for that money rather to go to the Justice Department to help encourage states. To submit more mental health records to the national criminal. Instant check system that's the gun background check system. That money has not been appropriated yet of course the president. Also calling for expanded background checks for gun shows and online sales that hasn't gone anywhere either. Harry Reid on the hill yesterday -- said there aren't the votes for this right now even in spite of this shooting. We heard President Obama yesterday in an interview -- basically he's done all he can't proposing these things take an executive actions. It's now up to congress to act and up to the American people to apply pressure if need be time. -- when we hear the. President talking about wanting to allocate more federal funds to things like background checks we also realize and recognize that we're dealing with sequestration. -- -- those in Washington who feel that perhaps sequestration and the lack of funds. Has affected any of these background check. System that's right that's a claim that's been coming out just in the past couple days we heard the DC mayor Vincent Gray yesterday make a claim in an interview. That he believes that sequestration those automatic across the board indiscriminate budget cuts that took effect at the beginning of the year. In packing everything from the Pentagon to Capitol Hill. To every federal agency may have had an impact here -- it's unclear. What specifically he was referring to there -- Whether it be shortages a employees to do these background checks whether it was in some way. Created a situation for for a Lexus the shooter here that that cost him it's it to be upset. We don't know but that is starting to surface now as a talking point here in Washington and we do expected the hearing that -- -- he is seen here in the house the house armed services committee. We expect that that will come up oh ordinary you just -- members of of the military testifying there are expected to talk about sequestration about the impact it's having on the military. And we could likely -- questions -- how that may have impacted the situation. Can we plan on listening into that hearing just a moment seven but I also wanted to ask you about. -- is seeking treatment at VA hospitals this is clearly. When you look back in hindsight. Someone who really did suffer quite a bit from mental anguish. That's right so we were just talking about an incident back in August in Rhode Island and that hospital room and call her a brother and a hotel room. What he called local police about hearing voices but again there's a separate incidents which you just referred to. -- V two VA hospitals that he was treated at a Rhode Island and here in Washington for insomnia we don't have a lot of details. Other than that officials telling us he was in -- for insomnia due to privacy reasons we don't know more. But again the question is were there missed signals here could these dots have been connected in various incidents. Involving his mental health that would have sent up a warning sign perhaps revoked his security clearance. That's another question that we expect. Judge to hear more from from officials about today especially the VA we have not heard anything explicitly from the DA today time. And devil we know the FBI is working on looking for a motive working on a profile obviously it's too late in this case but this may be something that can help them. In the future so how are they going about doing now. That's right -- one of the biggest focuses. Their investigation right now is Alexis is laptop they've obtained at their combing it. For clues we also understand the FBI has a team that is trying to build a criminal profile here trying to put together a picture. Perhaps a motive we still have not heard what the motive may have been in this situation. And we understand that hundreds of FBI agents are now fanned out across the country. Trying to help that effort trying to help build that profiles that we can hopefully try to identify other shooters like this prevents -- like this from happening again time. -- at the scene at the navy yard governor people already back to work today. It's -- for the second day in a row now the navy his is advised employees some 3000 they -- just alone and that -- be 197 where this took place. That they only want essential. Employees to -- to return to the base so. It's still pretty quiet down there today most people or working from home still a crime scene we understand from authorities to take several more days to process -- seen. For evidence clean it up get to have ready for people to come back to work. But as of today it's still essential employees only at navy yard. And we expect that that it could be that way now for through tomorrow's world times. Now we know based on some of the president's most recent comments on background checks -- we can expect gun control to take center stage again. There are some rallies today in Washington but it appears those were pre planned before this incident. That's right its interest in that that this kind of converged just as advocates for greater gun control. We're gonna come to -- -- and try to revive that movement Beverly ignited after the sandy hook shooting last year December of last year. They had planned to come to Washington they were on Capitol Hill yesterday some of those same families and other advocates. -- there again today. And they're really saying that this latest incident and navy yard adds fuel to their fire for trying to get congress to take some action and guns are got to tell you. Patty followed the debate up on Capitol Hill we know there just is absolutely no movement there. And as I mentioned earlier senate majority leader Harry Reid came out yesterday and -- we simply do you just do not have the votes to even consider this to -- -- it come to the floor. So these advocates are up on Capitol Hill trying to remind. Lawmakers that they are still there they still want action on this but it's unclear whether that will actually come to the floor when everything else that's going on time. All right NBC's Devin Dwyer the White House thank you so much for joining us. And out right now let's turn -- -- hearing on Capitol Hill that DeVon mention entries are naval challenges that locks that spirit. To hear from special operations chief Jonathan greener it. Or resides at the last senility aren't we begin going to be hearing about the effects of sequestration cuts and do you believe -- perhaps. This latest and changed strategy shooting at community are they traverse -- let's listen. No one persons in charge of it. The executive branch and legislative branch. -- work together to come up with -- whatever that new system and -- and right now we're not. So yes I have one hope for this hearing is that we can sort of have that cooperative spirit and few gentlemen tell us -- look here's where we need to cut. And continue in this members -- is now we can't do that while the what do you want to cut. What advice to we have for you on what would be acceptable to us and how we restructure our military strategy. Given the fiscal realities that we've -- talked outside hope we can have that discussion again thank the chairman for his leadership for not focusing on this issue -- I would say I look forward to your testimony in the questions but honestly I really don't because this is not an easy subject and there is no good way out of it. Will deal with it as best we can thank -- Thank you. The stroke was -- the journal of fiscal right. Down the line please -- -- -- ranking member Smith and other distinguished members of this community. Thank you for the -- -- a few -- sequestration was -- 2014. -- English teacher choices facing the army. -- I -- -- strong down military forces at the close of every war and today is no different. This time however we are drawing down our army before. They wars over. And at a time when there's grave uncertainty in -- national security environment that we witness every single day. Today the total army the act of army the army National Guard US army reserves. Remains heavily committed in operations overseas -- a home. More than 70000 soldiers are deployed as we sit here today. Including 50000 soldiers in Afghanistan and nearly 88000 soldiers -- fort station across the world. During my more than 37 years of service the US army is deployed soldiers to fight and in more than ten conflicts. Including the longer -- our nation's history in Afghanistan. No one can protect where the next -- -- will arise. They'll require the employment of ground forces. We only know the lessons of the past. In every decade since World War II the United States has deployed US army soldiers to defend our national security -- -- There are some who have suggested there'll be no win wars in the future. Why wished that were true. Unfortunately there -- little to convince me that we will not ask our soldiers deployed again. In the future. We have also learned from previous draw downs at the full burden. Over -- prepared and hollow force will fall directly on the shoulders of our men and women in uniform. We have experienced this too many times and our nation's history. To repeat this egregious error but again. The chief of staff -- -- just what is now want to -- this hearing -- -- aren't theirs is. In order to -- talking -- Martinez is joining us live from the the Pentagon has a little bit more of clouds and sequestration the topic this hearing right out -- well as the suspect. In that Washington navy yard shooting -- Louis -- start -- this -- -- sequestration -- were making the bridge here. What are people saying about the impact of sequestration. On this event this shooting. Notice to become a topic of conversational asides here in -- to -- obviously has become. Has been -- lingering issue this whole year. That DOD went through some big cuts as a result a sequestration. They're going to be further cuts down the road -- schedule for the next fiscal year and once that kicks in -- October 1. And that people and in predicting some pretty significant. Impacts on readiness. Well one of those impacts and it's been discussed is how is -- -- impact further security. -- military facilities around the world. Given -- the recent events this week with the shooting a community art some congressman and raising the issue of whether budget cuts have played a role in that. There's also been discussion about an inspector general's report that came out. This week. Criticizing. The navy's. Bagging system one of their batting systems. But you know -- officials tell us at that and inspector general's report really wasn't looking at the relevant information. For this gunman Aaron Alexis because -- believe it or not he actually had a higher level. -- badge access and the one that was being your read by the inspector general so the the effects of sickest -- lingering Allred the Pentagon. I -- congressman wondering whether there could have been any potential impact and the -- shooting. And what may be -- what my line -- down the road with regards to these budget cuts. Absolutely let let's talk a little bit about the timeline here because we're talking about someone who'd been in the system for -- while he was honorably discharged. From military service even though there were incidents. In his military past that gave -- commanding officers deposits tickets through that timing in terms of Aaron Alexis is journey toward that terrible moments have ended his life and the lots of others. Time and a couple of incidents have raised questions about how he even got into an -- first place I he had -- in 2004 for which he was not. -- prosecuted. When there's a shooting incident. -- in a fit of rage apparently claimed the blackout thing he claimed the blackout where he shot some tires. Normally don't raise questions when your -- joining in military service. We're told that. When he joined -- -- that incident did not rise the level of any concern -- in which case he would have been granted a moral waivers so that he can enter the force. What when he -- he did answer he qualified giving his job status four secret national security clearance. They looked at that and everything was good so about a year later after he joined the navy he guys clearance. What that at that point is when we start noticing this pattern of misconduct. I'm involves Aaron Alexis and we're told between eight to ten incidents ranging from in subordination. To not showing up for work. To -- that disorderly conduct. -- in -- through his career that that's so ultimately about three years later than he tries to get rid of him. They -- what's called a general discharge which means they're gonna separate him from that maybe but. -- with case apparently didn't meet the criteria. And that ultimately they had to keep them well on his own. Alexis decided that he wanted to get out early from the in his -- commitment. -- it was -- mutually beneficial to both sides. In the sense that his commander had to approve this kind of -- so that's how he ended up with his -- honorable discharge. -- -- having an honorable discharge meant that he can also keep his seat national security colors -- which kids those secret clearances last about ten years. And that ultimately that helped him get his job which placed him at the navy yard list this week. Right so interesting that so many of these. Incidents didn't lead to what many had predicted would have saved lives -- gonna switch now to naval operations chief. Planet like reader -- current test families and friends in the co workers of the victims of Monday's events at the Washington -- -- -- -- we lost shipmates. On Monday. The secretary of the navy and I and our leadership have our full attention. On ensuring that the victims' families co workers and their co workers are provided with the care in the support that they need that they deserve during this difficult time. We are grateful for the teamwork and the heroism which was at which the first responders. Showed when they reacted and we are working closely with the FBI and other law enforcement authorities to conclude this investigation. Does directed yesterday by the secretary defense secretary of the navy and me. We are reviewing the security procedures and the access control. For all our navy installations around the world I expect to have a rapid review completed within two weeks. Which of course we will share -- you. Nothing matters more to us than the safety and security of our people. I know you're aware of the DOG the Department of Defense IG report released yesterday. The -- the cost control measures as a potential cause for vulnerabilities in contractor access procedures for our basis. Chairman I've read the report. We are reviewing it right now and to the degree we have vulnerabilities. Will correct them and we'll do it expeditiously. We are grateful that the DOD IG for working with us -- with us on this. And I can assure you however that the cost control measures that were mentioned in this report have nothing to do with budget -- -- Our sequestration itself. We don't cut budgetary corners for security term. The two -- on related. Now something needs Saturday -- changed will fix it right away. Further we will continue to work closely with department of -- IG east IG staff. And will reconcile all these recommendations. In this report I just held my hand. Again nothing is more important to -- term. Now I'd like to address with the time remaining two more points our budget situation and our plan and fiscally it's when he fourteen. In the long term impacts of sequestration. Mr. chairman presence remains the mandate for the navy we have to operate forward where it matters and we got to be ready when it matters. Recent events have clearly demonstrated our ability to do that quickly we position ourselves and we offered options to the president in this past month. This ability also reassures our allies and insurers that US interest around the world are properly served. Now as we prepare for -- when he fourteen. Sequestration is get a further reduce our readiness. The impacts of sequestration will be realized in two main categories. Operations and maintenance and our investments. There several operational impacts but the most concerning to me. Is that reductions in operation and maintenance accounts is gonna result in heaven only one non deployed carrier strike group. And one amphibious ready group trained and ready for surge operations. We will be forced to cancel maintenance. This one evidently lead to reduced life for our ships and for our aircraft. -- sure we will again conduct only safety essential renovation of facilities. And no further increase the backlog in this area. We will probably be compelled to keep the hiring freeze in place for most of our civilian positions. And that will of course affect the spectrum in the balance of our civilian force. We will not be able to use -- your funds to mitigate sequestration cuts in our investment accounts like we could in -- -- thirteen. So without congressional action we will lose at least a Virginia class submarine a littoral combat ship afloat forward staging base. And will be forced to delay the delivery of the next aircraft carrier the Ford and will delay the mid life overhaul that George Washington aircraft carrier. Also will -- for chairman of eleven tactical aircraft. The key to a balanced portfolio chairman is a spending bill and the ability to transfer money. We need to transfer. I think about a billion dollars into the operations and maintenance account in about a billion dollars into our procurement accounts post sequestration. Mostly so we can get shipbuilding back on track and to meet -- essential needs. When -- do this by January. Other program deliveries of programs and weapons systems -- be delayed regardless depending on the authority that we are granted. To -- a portion funds between accounts. Now when it comes -- the strategic choices and management review its complete and the navy's focus now is on crafting a balanced portfolio. Of programs within the fiscal guidance -- we were provided. More details of what we're doing an -- outlined in my written statement which I request be entered for the record. In summary we will maintain a credible and moderate -- based strategic deterrent that's our number one program. We will maximize vote present as I pass from four presences -- -- -- before. That's what we need to do and we -- -- ready deployed forces to do -- and we'll continue investing in a symmetric capabilities. Well with this committee -- we'll do our best to sustain a relevant industrial base. However in a given fiscal scenario within the budget control act cost caps. There are numerous missions that are in the defense strategic guidance past that we. Signed up to a few years ago we can't perform. These are laid out in great detail in my written statement and I'll save you going through each and every one of these in my oral statement here. But apply and one fiscal and programmatic scenario. We would result in a fleet inventory of about 255. Ships in 22 -- that's our benchmark year for the defense strategic guidance. That's about thirty less than today it's about forty less than it was in our -- but submission and it's 51 less than our force structure assessment. A three -- -- six ships. -- mr. chairman I understand the pressing need for the nation to get its fiscal house in order and I'm on board of that. But I think we need to do it I think it's imperative that we do -- and a thoughtful manner to ensure that we sustain appropriate war fighting capability. That we have proper forward presence and readiness. Those -- the attributes we depend on from our navy from -- -- I look forward to working with the congress to find solutions that -- ensure our navy retains the ability to organize to train into -- the great sailors. In defense of our nation who operate. In concert with the Marine Corps. My thanks to you in this committee for the support -- you've shown our navy during this difficult time and many other times. Clearly you continue to have our best interest at heart sank. -- -- general. We've just been watching the opening remarks prepared or large Japanese operations chief Jonathan greener and we want a -- ABC's -- Martinez -- pentagon. To talk to us a little bit about that the crux of this hearing before the house committee on armed services which -- -- affected sequestration. On the military and -- we just heard him talk about the need for money for essentials. Like shipbuilding -- the essential work of that naval yard let alone security. At the yard which many believe. Was at fault and they have -- up to the shooting on Monday the mass shooting. Tell us a little -- again about the impact some people feel sequestration. Has had on security and things like background checks. -- -- -- -- -- sequestration is a 10% across the board cut. In the budgets of the Pentagon and other national security. Administration's. Here in -- and in Washington DC. But in the impact is beyond -- DC because it's national and it's international because it's gonna impact as you heard -- talking about how many ships -- -- -- actually got to see. It isn't the -- have been in effect already this year you -- the air force grounding as many as sixteen -- because it just wasn't enough money. You saw the blue angels the of the famous. Acrobatic team from the needy I'm grounded as well it's unclear if they'll fly again this year it's it's all that having really big. Impacts on the military. But it's been more than just one year because this is a ten year plan. And so they're talking about significant impact on the road and that's why you heard -- decision is sitting there. In the US may end up with an eighty may end up with a thirty fewer ships and and 20/20 -- we have right now. That Scandrick -- raises concerns on their part. Com and they're trying to make that point to congress which is why you have the fourth done hands of this and military services there. Testifying today of course the relevance being this week's. That shooting at the navy yard here at the top of his remarks by his talking about how -- could care concern of the victims' families. Is of Paramount concern here. And also insuring that there -- enough resources. Right now and down the road to prevent these kind of events from taking place in the future. -- -- who -- talked a little bit about Aaron Alexis is. Shaky pass in the military. But that did not lead up to his revocation of his security clearance. But this seems to be a case have none of these. Incidents rising to the rockets in being at the level. To really alert people they seem like a number of small incidents that never really -- put together. Franco the whole issue this pattern of misconduct ranging from its subordination. I -- showing up for work and then also his brushes with a lot we mentioned the one two of them -- one of them earlier and he actually had three. And in last -- last decade. One of them actually had an impact on his -- career he got an internal administrative punishment for it. How we believe. And -- is just lot of red flags there with -- says that security clearance you know in recent months it appears his mental. Capacity news just experiencing a breakdown and this was while he was serving as an -- contractor you. After he left the navy he decided to join and IT company. That -- -- Munich contract so he -- to -- with them. 1 partially overseas Japan working on navy -- contracts on computers and then a second stint that began in late June. -- again that this company did a cursory background check on him and they check with the military to see if his secret that Clarence was still in effect think they got the thumbs up. -- -- -- started working so he went to various locations along the East Coast working on contract one of Mosul one of those contracts to continue in eighty basic Newport, Rhode Island. Com and this is what we heard now that incident that came out last night. Where Newport police were called to his hotel room because he said he was hearing voices coming through the walls he felt the people were coming after him. That Newport police department just said an officer there at the -- down the information and didn't pursue the matter further. Internally but what they did -- -- they contacted the police department at the naval. Stationed -- -- Newport. And what we're finding out this morning is that the and -- naval police department there at Newport. Deemed to that Alexis was not a threat to himself and two others. And at that point -- that it appears that the case was closed. All right so interesting to hear about those warning signs and we should tell our viewers thank you -- Martinez. Joining us from the Pentagon that the house armed services committee hearing will continue to stream live on abcnews.com. He's -- watching ABC news digital special report on -- Hernandez in New York thanks for joining us. This has been a special. Report from me.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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