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

(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.

A smiling Aaron Alexis in Fort Worth, Texas.
A smiling Aaron Alexis in Fort Worth, Texas.   (AP Photo/Kristi Kinard Suthamtewakul)
Restaurant owner Oui Suthamtewakul, right, and Micheal Ritrovato speak about working with Aaron Alexis .
Restaurant owner Oui Suthamtewakul, right, and Micheal Ritrovato speak about working with Aaron Alexis .   (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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