Accused Navy Yard Gunman Was a Buddhist
Dad also told police he was traumatized from 9/11
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2013 6:21 PM CDT
A smiling Aaron Alexis in Fort Worth, Texas.   (AP Photo/Kristi Kinard Suthamtewakul)

(Newser) – New details have emerged about accused Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis. Perhaps most unexpected: Alexis was a practicing Buddhist, who visited a Fort Worth Thai Buddhist temple to meditate twice a week. "From the outside, he was a quiet person," says one of the monk's assistants, per the Washington Post. "But on the inside, I think he was very aggressive. He did not like to be close with anybody, like a soldier who has been at war." But the owner of a Thai restaurant where Alexis worked as a waiter disagrees with this characterization. "He lived with me three years,” the owner tells the Star-Telegram. "I don’t think he’d do this. He has a gun, but I don’t think he’s that stupid. He didn’t seem aggressive to me."

Two editorial staffers from the Star-Telegram were regular customers at the restaurant, and have made a YouTube video discussing their memories of Alexis as a "sweet," "geeky" guy. But other reports hint at a darker side. In 2004, he allegedly shot out the tires of a man's car in Seattle, believing he had "mocked him" earlier that day, the Post reports. Alexis told police he had a "'black-out' fueled by anger" and didn't remember firing the gun until later that day. A police report of the incident also says Alexis had "been present" at the scene of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the experience "disturbed him." His father told police at the time he was an "active participant in rescue attempts," and subsequently developed PTSD and anger-management issues.

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Sep 17, 2013 5:52 PM CDT
Oh hey everyone, did you know there are over 7 billion people on the planet? Because there are! And just about every combination of paragon and evil, every religion, every ethnicity and nationality has a representative somewhere among those billions. A black Buddhist American killer is just one of those combinations. Statistically, there almost had to be at least one.
Sep 17, 2013 5:39 PM CDT
In any way try to tie this shooting to the fact that he was attending Buddhist groups means that there is no understanding in the fact that Buddhism is simply non-violent in every fibre of its teachings. I am glad he tried to get help, I am indeed sad that for whatever reason, the teachings could not reach him before he committed such acts. As a Vietnam era Vet, I know that many American Vets turned to Buddhism (the main religion of Vietnam and other South East Asian countries) as a sane path away from war and violence. Many of my buddies stayed with it and a lot of changes happened over time. Some didn't. The allure of Buddhism is the ability to find inner peace. Some make it, some don't. In a world addicted to violence and extraordinary cruelty at times, this journey isn't an easy one. This man may have spent time in the Buddhist community trying to quell his demons. It doesn't in any way reflect on the Buddhist basic core values of non-violence and compassion. It just means that a person trying to find these things and who was searching didn't get to the core of how to apply these truths in time. Buddhism has always been a place for those seeking to work on these issues. . Thanks for listening.
Sep 17, 2013 11:11 AM CDT
"Was a Buddhist"???? Maybe I'm wrong, but how often do Newsr headlines mention someone religion so prominently? How about other prominent murders? David Berkowitz was a Jew. John Wayne Gacy was a Catholic. Theodore Bundy was a Methodist. I assume that none of these people's religious authorities were anything other than horrified by their actions. Was "Gunman was a Buddhist" an indirect way of saying "Gunman was not a Muslim"?