The man accused of killing 12 people in the Monday morning shooting at a navy yard in Washington, D.C. had taught himself the Thai language, had visited Thailand recently, and had made plans to move there, according to a Bangkok Post report.
The suspected shooter, 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, had been living and working with Nutpisit Suthamtewakul, owner of the Happy Bowl Thai restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, for the past three years, up until Monday’s shooting rampage that ended with Alexis being shot and killed by security forces.
Mr. Nutpisit and some of his customers told the U.S. media that Alexis was “friendly and polite”. Mr. Nutpisit added that Alexis had a strong interest in Buddhism and often meditated.
“He didn’t seem aggressive at all”, said the Thai businessman. Alexis was seen frequently at a Buddhist temple, meditating and helping out.
Alexis and Nutpisit lived in an apartment owned by another Thai-Texan, Somsak Srisan. “I never saw him get angry about anything,” the apartment owner said of Alexis.
Friends said Alexis had taught himself Thai and spoke well. One Thai customer at the restaurant told CNN that Alexis’ Thai was “fluent”.
Alexis had recently visited Thailand, and had held and then lost an IT job in Japan.
He served in the U.S. navy from 2007 to 2011 as an aviation electrician’s mate 3rd class.
In 2011 he was discharged after working as a member of an aviation support squadron in Fort Worth, Texas for three years. More recently, he was working as a military contractor.
He was kicked out of the navy in 2011 after being arrested for firing a gun into a neighbor’s apartment.
In 2010 Alexis was arrested in Fort Worth on suspicion of discharging a weapon. He told officials that the gun had discharged accidentally while he was cleaning it. The county district attorney did not prosecute.
By Monday night U.S. time, police had identified Alexis as the shooter who went on a two-hour rampage at the large naval base in Washington, D.C., but have not said what they believe his motive was.
Authorities said the gunman entered the base early Monday morning, possibly using another person’s ID card to pass through the gates.
Armed with three weapons, including an AR-15 rifle, he went to the fourth floor of Building 197, and at 8:15 a.m. began shooting down into a crowded atrium with an employee cafeteria.
Over the next two hours, Navy security and Washington police had “multiple” exchanges of gunfire with Alexis, said Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier, eventually shooting and killing him.
In addition to the 12 people killed, three more were injured and treated at a hospital. All three are expected to recover, hospital officials said.
An FBI poster on Alexis is asking the public for any information it has on the suspected shooter. Image/Bangkokpost.com