Navy Yard Shooting at D.C.

I just recently started my journalism class, and so this is one of the first few articles I wrote:

A mass shooting left 13 people dead- including the suspect- Monday at the Washington D.C. Navy Yard base.

The identity of the shooter was Aaron Alexis, a former Navy member and a current defense contractor.

Site of Shooting

In what was called by chief Cathy Lanier “one of the worst things we’ve seen,” Alexis entered the Navy Yard base with a shotgun, gained access to two handguns, and began to start shooting at people. Navy Yard employee Terrie Durham recalled that “he aimed his gun at us and then he fired at least two or three shots.”

After the arrival of the SWAT team and the police, Alexis was killed by Officer Scott Williams in one of what Chief Lanier described as “multiple engagements” between police shooting teams and Alexis.

Once the shooting was over and the investigation began, details began to emerge. Apparently, Alexis had been recently living in local Washington hotels. He purchased his gun from a gun store in Virginia, and the purchase appeared to have complied with state law.

He was then allowed to enter the base because “of his work as a contractor,” said FBI assistant director Valerie Parlave, and then began his rampage. What disconcerted some, however, was how the base missed Alexis bringing in a shotgun, though he might have concealed it.

The motives behind the shooting remained unclear. His most recent contact with authorities before the shooting was one month ago when he reported to police that an individual who he got into a verbal fight with was sending three “people to follow him” and “keep him awake” by sending vibrations through his body using “some sort of microwave machine.”

Although clear now that he had psychological problems, Alexis at the time stated that he did “not have a history of mental illness in his family and that he has never had any sort of mental episode.”

Besides psychological problems, he also ran into a few troubles with the Navy he was formerly in, having had eight misconducts on duty. “He wasn’t a stellar sailor,” said Rear Adm. Kirby, and because of the misconducts, he was honorably discharged in January 2011.

Aaron Alexis

Personal accounts revealed there were financial problems for Alexis, too; Kristi Suthamtewakul, a friend of Alexis, told CNN that “he wasn’t getting paid on time, he wasn’t getting paid what he was supposed to be getting paid,” referring to his job. Another friend, Michael Ritrovato, also said that Alexis was arguing with his employer often over the pay.

Alexis even thought of “mov[ing] out of America” because he thought “as a veteran, he wasn’t being treated right or fairly,” said Suthamtewakul.

Yet, despite all of Alexis’s problems, friends still saw him as in heart being a “very good-natured guy,” as said by Ritrovato, and described him committing the mass shooting at Navy Yard as “incredible.”

Melinda Down, an acquaintance of Alexis, also expressed disbelief and surprise, saying, “It is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Who was this guy?”

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Connecticut Tragedy

It’s going to be the end of the world supposedly. But for 26 people, with 20 of them children, the end already came. This is the recent infamous Connecticut shootings, where a mentally ill 20-year-old named Adam Lanza murdered his mom and then drove to a nearby school to start a massacre. All this occurred in the town of Newtown, generally a quiet and peaceful place. Now, all its citizens are in shock, and trying to recuperate.

This of course made national headlines, being the 2nd worst school shooting. Throughout the past week, it was a time for mourning for Newtown citizens, and even President Obama came to comfort those who had lost someone. Below is a video of Obama making a statement about this shooting.

Notice that in the video, Obama said that we have to take action. To many people, it meant gun control. Apparently, many gun advocates were too embarrassed to talk about guns. All pro-gun senators but one came out to defend gun rights. The NRA (National Rifle Association) refused to comment. Contrary, gun control advocates were proud of speaking up. New York mayor Bloomberg even slammed Obama on not taking gun control as a serious priority. Perhaps the reason Obama doesn’t take gun control seriously is maybe because he fears the political damage the NRA could do. But hey, isn’t the NRA in its weak state due to the shooting?

Shooter Adam Lanza, who was mentally ill

Of course, however, still many people say it’s not about the guns, it’s about the people with the guns. And now, the issue of mental illness has come out of the sidelines. One should note a pattern in which all the previous mass shootings were caused by mentally ill people. Gun advocates say that if we could fix this problem, then this gun issue should be no big deal. The question is how do we fix this problem? Establishing a ton of psychiatrists in America is not going to help that much. I guess that this shooting is a wake-up call for America to start putting more emphasis on fixing mental illnesses. Usually, this issue is put off to the side because nobody likes to talk about it, but if we don’t do anything about this, than more shootings will be occurring.

Politicizing a tragedy is usually not a good thing, but in this case, it might be. Because by politicizing this, we can put more focus on the issues of gun control and mental illness, thereby preventing future tragedies like this. May God bless those children who died, and may God prevent any more children from dying like they did.