WASHINGTON — Just five weeks before he killed 12 people at the Navy Yard in Washington, Aaron Alexis told police in Newport, R.I., that he was hearing voices in his head, that he feared three people were going to harm him and that the voices sometimes came through “the walls, floor and ceiling” of a Navy base in Rhode Island where he was working as a civilian contractor.
Alexis, 34, who was killed by police at the end of the rampage Monday, also said the individuals were using “some sort of microwave machine” to send vibrations through the ceiling of his hotel room to keep him from falling asleep, according to a Newport police report on the Aug. 7 incident that was released Tuesday.
A little more than a month later, on Sunday, Alexis purchased the shotgun he used in the shooting rampage the following day.
In Newport, Alexis told officers that he did “not have a history of mental illness in his family and that he has never had any sort of mental episode,” according to the police report.
The police told him to “stay away” from whoever he thought might be following him.
In his job as a computer technician working for a firm called The Experts, Alexis moved from base to base around the U.S. for several months this year. Officials said Alexis moved to Washington on Aug. 25 to begin working at the Navy Yard.
On Sunday, Alexis visited the Sharpshooters Small Arms Range and gun store in Lorton, Va., a suburb of Washington. There, according to the store’s attorney, J. Michael Slocum, Alexis rented a rifle, bought some ammunition and practiced on the firing range. He then purchased a Remington 870 shotgun and two boxes of ammunition containing 24 shells.
The purchase appears to have complied with Virginia's laws, which are less stringent than those in some other states. In 2007, after a 23-year-old student, Seung Hui Cho, killed 32 students and faculty members at Virginia Tech, then-Gov. Tim Kaine signed an executive order requiring that the names of all people involuntarily committed to mental health facilities be provided to a federal database, which licensed gun dealers are supposed to check before they sell anyone a gun. But Alexis does not appear to have been committed at any point.
The weapon he bought, a short-barreled shotgun that fires with pump action, is commonly known as a “riot gun.” It is popular with military and law enforcement officers, and for home defense. According to manuals for the Remington 870, it is easier to “maneuver around corners and in tight spaces,” and it allows for “easier use by novice shooters.”
FBI officials said Monday that Alexis entered the base with the shotgun, using the pass he had been given as part of his job.