Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis seen in new video footage
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WASHINGTON -- Newly disclosed video footage of the Washington Navy Yard shootings shows gunman Aaron Alexis calmly hunting his victims for more than 30 minutes, wielding a sawed-off shotgun and stepping into offices to shoot.
The footage, disclosed Thursday by FBI Director James B. Comey in a news briefing, makes clear the civilian contractor from Queens and Brooklyn who authorities said killed 12 Navy Yard workers on Monday was not targeting any individuals, but rather was intent on shooting as many people as possible -- even shooting a security guard and grabbing his weapon to continue the killing as he ran low on shotgun shells.
"It appears to me he was wandering the halls and hunting people to shoot," Comey said.
Alexis, 34, was familiar with the facility and its layout because he had been working there on a computer server refresher project, Comey said.
Investigators have ruled out elements of some initial, erroneous accounts, he said: Alexis never sprayed sniper fire down on employees in an atrium plaza. And there was no sign that Alexis had collaborators.
What investigators do not yet know, Comey said, is whether Alexis carried the Remington 870 Express shotgun he used onto the base with him Monday morning or if it was planted beforehand.
Alexis was carrying a bag with him when he parked and walked into Building 197, where the shootings occurred, Comey said. He took the bag into a fourth-floor bathroom and walked out carrying the shotgun, but not the bag. After shooting on the fourth and third floors, he descended to the lobby, where he shot the security guard. Then he went back upstairs and continued shooting, pausing occasionally to grab more ammunition from a pocket in the black cargo pants he wore.
He said the video shows Alexis "calmly" walking around and firing indiscriminately.
Police eventually exchanged gunfire with Alexis and shot him after he ran out of bullets, Comey said. "He was isolated and pinned down by the first responders."
The Navy Yard reopened Thursday at 6 a.m., except in Building 197. Workers returning for the first time since the shooting said they were apprehensive.
"I'd rather not be here today," said Judy Farmer, a scheduler from Manassas, Va.
Bob Flynn, who hid in an office in Building 197 with four colleagues during the shooting, said it helped to be at work with them Thursday.
"I feel good because I got to see my co-workers that I went through this with," Flynn said. "I get to hug people, and everybody gets the hugs and we get to talk about it and I think it's going to be helpful."
Flynn said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus met with them Thursday morning. "He said, 'If anybody has a problem, you call me,' and he means it, and it's just one big family and that's why we're going to be able to make it," Flynn said.
On Wednesday, Alexis' mother, Cathleen Alexis, apologized in her Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, home for what her son did.
"His actions have had a profound and everlasting effect on the families of the victims," she read from a prepared statement. "I don't know why he did what he did and I'll never be able to ask him why.
"Aaron is now in a place where he can no longer do harm to anyone, and for that I am glad. To the families of the victims, I am so, so very sorry that this has happened. My heart is broken."
Investigators were not finished examining the video, Comey said, but were also looking for clues about the mental state and motivation of the man who in early August told police in Rhode Island that people were talking to him through the walls and ceilings of his hotel room, and sending microwave vibrations into his body to deprive him of sleep.
"There are indications this was a person with mental troubles and we are trying now to understand that," Comey said.