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Navy Yard shooting suspect had prior gun arrests

An undated photo of Aaron Alexis in Fort

An undated photo of Aaron Alexis in Fort Worth, Texas. Credit: AP/Kristi Kinard Suthamtewakul

Aaron Alexis, a Navy veteran who law enforcement authorities say opened fire on dozens of people at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, is a former New Yorker whose Queens neighbor said had lived a quiet life, a man who learned to speak Thai, dabbled in Buddhism and meditated.

But he also was a man who police records show had a record of shooting guns during disputes.

Alexis, who was shot dead by police at the Navy Yard on Monday, had terrorized another neighbor with a gun in Fort Worth, Texas, where he had been living for the past several years, police and media reports said.

In that Sept. 6, 2010, episode, Alexis was arrested after firing a gun into the ceiling of his apartment, nearly striking a neighbor with whom he had been feuding.

In 2004, Seattle police said Alexis shot out the tires of construction workers who had parked at a worksite near the Seattle home where he had been living with his grandmother.

The incidents, coupled with the carnage of Monday's attack, paint a picture of a complex, if disturbed man who police say acted alone in the rampage that left at least 13 people dead for reasons that have not yet become clear.

"They were a quiet family from what I remember," said Wendy Lopez, a 30-year resident of the Flushing apartment at 144-46 77th Rd. where she recalled Alexis' family living for several years ending in 2002. "I'm absolutely floored and shocked. There was nothing I would have said back then that showed a sign -- a very quiet family."

Lopez said she remembers the family -- a mom, a daughter and two teenage boys -- living in apartment 3B, directly above her, for about two years, ending in 2002.

She said she sometimes exchanged hellos and goodbyes with the mother and children, but didn't get their names.

She said they were quiet and she only once complained to them about noise -- a bouncing basketball. She said when she knocked on their apartment door to complain, they were "very nice. Never a problem."

Military personnel records show that Alexis spent nearly four years in the Navy as a full-time reservist from May 2007 until he was discharged in January 2011, according to The Washington Post, which cited a summary of Alexis' personnel records released by Navy officials at the Pentagon.

Alexis reached the rank of aviation electrician's mate 3rd class in December 2009.

He was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal -- two common awards for military personnel, according to The Washington Post.

Monday's shooting came three years after Alexis was arrested for firing the shot through the ceiling of his Fort Worth apartment.

According to a Sept. 6, 2010, Fort Worth police report obtained by Newsday, the neighbor said she heard a "pop" and saw dust falling from her ceiling, then realized there was a hole in her floor "just a couple of feet from where she was sitting."

"She said that several days ago Aaron confronted her in the parking lot about making too much noise," the report read.

The report said Alexis claimed he had been cleaning a gun when it went off accidentally, and explained he never inquired about whether he had injured anyone because he did not think the bullet had gone through the ceiling.

In Seattle in 2004, police said Alexis evaded them for almost a month after he shot out the tires of the construction workers' cars. Alexis told police that he had been the victim of an anger fueled "blackout," and that he had felt disrespected by the men.

Police said they interviewed Alexis' father in New York City, who told them Alexis had anger problems related to post-traumatic stress disorder after assisting with rescue efforts in the wake of the 9/11 terror attack.

Still, his Fort Worth acquaintances said he was a peaceful man who liked to meditate.

Nutpisit Suthamtewakul, owner of Happy Bowl Thai in White Settlement, a Fort Worth suburb, said Alexis was "my best friend," according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

"He lived with me three years," Suthamtewakul said. "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."

The newspaper quoted customers saying that Alexis had waited tables at Happy Bowl.

Alexis had recently visited Thailand and had been to Japan with a computer defense contractor, where he worked in information technology, said Sandy Guerra-Cline, a customer at Happy Bowl and copy editor at the Star-Telegram.

Alexis visited a Buddhist temple to meditate, and also helped out at the temple, Somsak Srisan, his landlord, told the Post.

With Nicole Fuller, Martin Evans and wire reports

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