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Pentagon: Navy Yard assault could have been prevented

By David S. Cloud
Tribune Washington Bureau

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WASHINGTON: A mentally troubled gunman who killed a dozen people at the Washington Navy Yard last fall could have been stopped if his employer had reported his strange behavior to the government, a Navy investigation released Tuesday concluded.

In response, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the Pentagon to check names of people with security clearances and approved access to military facilities against law enforcement databases, and to create an “insider threat management and analysis center.”

The investigation identified “troubling gaps” in the Pentagon’s ability to respond when a government employee, a member of the military or a civilian contractor “decides to inflict harm on this institution and its people,” Hagel told a Pentagon news conference.

Aaron Alexis, 34, had a secret-level security clearance and was working under contract as a computer technician at the Navy Yard when he went on a shooting spree Sept. 16 with a sawed-off shotgun. The former sailor killed 12 people and wounded three others before he was shot and killed by police.

The massacre “would have been interrupted” if Alexis’ supervisors at the Experts, an information technology consulting firm, had made a formal report, the Navy investigation found.

The military could have revoked Alexis’ access to Navy facilities and to classified information.


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