Committee Chairman Seeks Gunman’s VA Records

WASHINGTON—Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and other officials laid a wreath at the U.S. Navy Memorial today to honor the victims of the Washington Navy Yard shooting.

The rampage, which resulted in the death of 13 workers at the Navy Yard, including shooter Aaron Alexis, left federal officials searching for the motives behind the killings.

Alexis had served in the military from May of 2007-January of 2011 and at the time of the shooting was serving as a government contractor. News outlets were reporting that Alexis had been hearing voices in the weeks prior to the killings and had a troubled past that included prior incidents with guns.

Lawmakers were asking for details of the care that Alexis received in the wake of news reports that the veteran had received care from VA. In a letter, House Committee on Veterans’ Affair Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) wrote to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki that he was requesting “information regarding the care and benefits provided to Aaron Alexis through the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

“This information should include details surrounding any and all inpatient or outpatient care requested by and/or provided to Mr. Alexis, any appointments for care missed or pending by Mr. Alexis, his benefits status, and any services that may have been afforded to him through any other program at VA,” the letter stated.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Michael J. Fitzpatrick cautioned in a written statement that “facts are still emerging,” and that “mental health problems may be a factor in the rampage by the gunman; however, it is important not to speculate on medical diagnoses.”

“Several established facts and issues are relevant to public investigations surrounding the tragedy. With a criminal history that included two charges involving discharged firearms and disorderly conduct, questions immediately arise as to whether the gunman was ever entered into the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) database and how he was able to purchase the gun used in the tragedy—as well as how he was able to be granted a security clearance,” he wrote. “On that basis alone, the tragedy might have been prevented.”

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