SPD pushes back on blame for Navy shooter background

by: KIRO 7 STAFF Updated:

The agency that oversees federal background checks said the Seattle police department refused years ago to give information about the man suspected of killing 12 people last week at a Navy Yard.

But Seattle police said they would have provided specific information to anyone who requested it.

The suspected shooter, Aaron Alexis, lied during the security screening process when he joined the military, misleading investigating about his 2004 arrest in Seattle where police said he shot car tires, according to reports.

Alexis failed to tell investigators that he used a gun to deflate the tires, according to CNN.

Military officials are trying to figure out how they missed a series of red flags that might have allowed them to intervene and prevent Alexis from securing a job as a military contractor at the Washington Navy Yard, bringing a shotgun onto the secure facility and killing 12 people before being shot dead by police, The Wall Street Journal reported.

A central focus of the review, according to the Journal report, is Alexis' 2007 background check conducted by US Investigations Services LLC, a Falls Church, Va., company facing a criminal investigation over allegations that it rushed cases through the clearance process without proper review.

An official with the agency that oversees most federal background security checks told the Journal that if the department had permitted them to obtain records for Alexis, additional information may have been obtained.

Seattle Police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said the department is checking to see if Alexis' 2004 police report was requested and, if so, by whom.

"Anyone who is doing a thorough background check would have taken the time to request it and read it," he said of the report. "If you request specific information, we provide it to you."

The FBI confirmed last week their agents were hoping to question Alexis' relatives who still live on Beacon Hill. As they exited the family home last Monday night, agents would not tell KIRO 7 if the family was cooperating.

Someone who left the house told KIRO 7, "The family will never make a statement about what happened in DC."

Alexis, had been arrested in Seattle in 2004 for shooting out a car's tires. He had been staying at a home on Beacon Hill next to a construction work site, where two workers had parked their car.

The victims told officers they saw a man, later identified as Alexis, walk out of the home next to their work site, pull a gun from his waistband and fire three shots into the rear tires of the Honda before walking back to his home north of the construction site.

Officers responded but could not find Alexis.

Employees at the construction site told officers they saw Alexis staring at them for a month, and the owner of the construction business said Alexis may have been angry about parking around the site.

Officers who searched the home where Alexis was staying said they found a gun and ammunition in his room. He was booked into the King County Jail for malicious mischief on June 3, 2004.

After his arrest, police said Alexis told detectives he thought he had been mocked by construction workers the morning of the incident and said they had "disrespected him." Alexis also claimed he had an anger-fueled "blackout," and could not remember firing his gun at the men's car until an hour after the incident occurred, Seattle police said.

Alexis also told police he was present during "the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001" and described "how those events had disturbed him."

But charges were not filed against Alexis for the 2004 Seattle incident.

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