Navy Yard suspect is ex-military man, once worked in Thai restaurant

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 16, 2013 6:48 PM
Navy Yard suspect is ex-military man, once worked in Thai restaurant

By Chris Francescani

(Reuters) - A man suspected of the shooting at the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. on Monday was described as a former military serviceman known to have at one time worshipped at a Buddhist temple and worked in a Thai restaurant.

The FBI identified Aaron Alexis, 34, as a suspect who was among at least 13 people killed in the shooting not far from the U.S. Capitol and the White House. It was unclear whether Alexis was working at the U.S. Navy Yard in a civilian capacity at the time of the shooting, an official said.

Public records indicated that since 1998, Alexis lived in New York, Texas and Washington states. In September 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas, he was arrested for illegally discharging a firearm, but the case was not pursued, a county prosecutor's spokeswoman said.

Alexis had served in the military but most recently was furthering his education while holding down a job in the private sector, his father Algernon Alexis, said in a telephone interview.

"This comes as a complete shock," the elder Alexis said when he was told his son was identified as a suspect in the shooting.

His father said he was currently "in school and working at a job" at a private company in a "computer-related" position outside of his birthplace, New York.

Alexis worked at the "Thai Bowl" restaurant in 2008, said Tiki Confer, 64, the owner of the Bangkok House Thai restaurant in White Settlement, Texas. She said he spoke Thai and worshipped at a Buddhist temple.

"He was a very nice boy. When I saw his picture on the news, I was shocked," Confer said.

A U.S. Navy official said that Alexis served full time in the U.S. Navy's Reserve from May 2007 to January 2011. He reached the rank of Aviation Electrician's Mate 3rd Class.

He received two awards that are common for military personnel, the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

Alexis was arrested on September 4, 2010 in Fort Worth on a misdemeanor charge for firing a gun, said Melody McDonald, spokeswoman for the Tarrant County District Attorney's office.

"It was determined that Alexis was cleaning a gun in his apartment when it accidentally went off," McDonald said in a statement. "A bullet entered an apartment upstairs. No one was injured."

(Additional reporting by Phillip Stewart, Karen Brooks, Marice Richter, Susan Cornwell and Mark Hosenball; Writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Grant McCool)