Monday Evening News Update

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Good Evening!!

It’s been an eventful day in Washington DC, so I thought I’d post a brief update tonight.

I know JJ is busy dealing with her daughter’s upcoming surgery, and I haven’t been around for the past few days because I was doing some marathon kid-sitting. I’m still a little tired after spending most of the day last Wed. and Fri. and Sat. nights with my 8 and 10-year-old nephews. I love them more than anything and love spending time with them, but their energy does wear me out after a while.

Anyway–the news. The top story is of course the latest mass shooter, Aaron Alexis, who killed 12 people and injured at least 14 others at the Washington Navy Yard this morning. Alexis is also dead. From CNN:

The picture emerging of a dead gunman in Monday’s rampage at the Washington Navy Yard is a study in contrasts, one of a man who practiced languages and meditated and another of a cold-blooded killer.

Authorities have not released a possible motive in the shooting at the headquarters for Naval Sea Systems Command that witnesses described as terrifying and chaotic.

The gunman was identified as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, a former Navy reservist and a current military contractor, the Washington FBI Field Office told CNN. His identity was confirmed by fingerprints and a picture ID card, the FBI said.

Police are still looking for a possible second shooter, but that wouldn’t fit the pattern of these workplace-type shooters. But we’ll have to wait and see.

Alexis, who was from New York City, served as a full-time Navy reservist between 2007 and 2011, according to military records.

In the Navy, Alexis achieved the rank of aviation electrician’s mate 3rd class, working on aircraft electrical systems, the records show.

Alexis was discharged after a “pattern of misconduct,” a U.S. defense official, with knowledge of the investigation, told CNN on condition of anonymity. The official did not detail the misconduct.

Most recently, Alexis worked as an information technology contractor with the Navy…. His last known address was outside of Fort Worth, Texas…

This CNN story has more details on the shooting itself.

Alexis has a history of violent behavior. In 2010, he was arrested for firing a gun through the ceiling of his Fort Worth apartment, according to USA Today. No charges were filed.

The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office issued a statement Monday saying that no charges were pursued against Alexis. “It was determined that Alexis was cleaning a gun in his apartment when it accidentally went off,” Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon Jr., said. “No one was injured.”

Aaron Alexis' mugshot from 2010 arrest

Aaron Alexis’ mugshot from 2010 arrest

The Smoking Gun has more detail on the incident as well as two earlier ones in 2004 and 2008. The neighbor into whose apartment Alexis fired a bullet (here’s the police report)

said that she was “terrified” of Alexis, who had previously confronted her about making too much noise. The woman, who was “visibly shaken up” when questioned by police, said that she believed the shooting was “intentional.”

When police confronted Alexis, who is seen in the adjacent mug shot, he claimed that he was cleaning the weapon when it discharged. Alexis told cops that he was cooking at the time and his hands were slippery as he “began to take the gun apart when his hands slipped and pulled the trigger discharging a round into the ceiling.”

Asked why he did not notify police or check on the welfare of his upstairs neighbor, Alexis said that he “didn’t think it went all the way through since he couldn’t see any light through the hole.” Additionally, “In regards to the noise he said he thought that people would just think it was a firecracker.”

Um…that really sounds like a red flag to me. Maybe guns going off randomly in apartments isn’t such a big deal in Fort Worth?

In 2004, Alexis was arrested in Seattle for

shooting out the tires of a car owned by a construction worker who purportedly “mocked him.” Alexis told cops that an anger-fueled “black out” promted the shooting. Alexis’s father told investigators that his son suffered from “anger management problems” that were related to post-traumatic stress disorder, perhaps connected to his involvement in rescue work following the September 11 terror attacks.

Here’s more detail on the Seattle incident from the Seattle PD:

At about 8 am that morning, two construction workers had parked their 1986 Honda Accord in the driveway of their worksite, next to a home where Alexis was staying in the Beacon Hill neighborhood.

The victims reported seeing a man, later identified by police as Alexis, walk out of the home next to their worksite, pull a gun from his waistband and fire three shots into the two rear tires of their Honda before he walked slowly back to his home north of the construction site….

Following his arrest, Alexis told detectives he perceived 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 victims’ vehicle until an hour after the incident.

Alexis’ father told Seattle police that his son had PTSD.

Finally, according to The Smoking Gun, in 2008, he was arrested for disorderly conduct in DeKalb County, Georgia. The guy really got around. I guess we’ll be learning a lot more about him over the next few days.

A man is taken into custody by uniformed Secret Service Police on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House on Monday,

A man is taken into custody by uniformed Secret Service Police on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House on Monday,

The shooting spree at the Navy Yard wasn’t the only out-of-the ordinary incident in Washington DC today. A short time ago, a man was arrested by the Secret Service outside the White House after he tossed some firecrackers over the fence. USA Today:

Officials identified the man only as Alexander Sahagian; he is believed to age 52.

The firecrackers, which to some sounded like gunshots, triggered a lockdown of the White House complex.

Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie said the suspect was transported to a nearby police station and will likely be charged with illegally throwing a projectile.

If I get more detail on these incidents, I’ll post links in the comment thread. So…what are you hearing? Any big news in your neck of the woods?


Thursday: Bob Woodward’s Non-Scoop, and Some Interesting Long Reads

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Good Morning!!

Poor Bob Woodward! The only way he can get attention nowadays is by whining and crying and generally creating a tempest in a teapot.

Yesterday Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen posted one of their patented “Behind the Curtain” pieces: Woodward at War, in which they dramatically revealed the inside story of Woodward’s little spat with the White House. This is the sort of story only the Villagers really care about, but when they care about something, they insist on forcing their opinions about it on the rest of us. It was the subject of the first hour of Morning Joe for yesterday and today, and the focus of countless media reports and blog posts throughout the day yesterday. Woodward must be in heaven with all this attention. From Politico:

Bob Woodward called a senior White House official last week to tell him that in a piece in that weekend’s Washington Post, he was going to question President Barack Obama’s account of how sequestration came about — and got a major-league brushback. The Obama aide “yelled at me for about a half-hour,” Woodward told us in an hourlong interview yesterday around the Georgetown dining room table where so many generations of Washington’s powerful have spilled their secrets.

Digging into one of his famous folders, Woodward said the tirade was followed by a page-long email from the aide, one of the four or five administration officials most closely involved in the fiscal negotiations with the Hill. “I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today,” the official typed. “You’re focusing on a few specific trees that give a very wrong impression of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here. … I think you will regret staking out that claim.”

Woodward repeated the last sentence, making clear he saw it as a veiled threat. “ ‘You’ll regret.’ Come on,” he said. “I think if Obama himself saw the way they’re dealing with some of this, he would say, ‘Whoa, we don’t tell any reporter ‘you’re going to regret challenging us.’”

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Horrors! “I think you will regret staking out that claim” is a “major league brushback?” Either Nixon and his men were quite a bit wimpier than we all thought, or Woodward is a lot touchier now than he was in the Watergate days.

In an update, Vandehei and Allen revealed that the White House adviser who supposedly yelled at Woodward over the phone and then “threatened” him was Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council. This morning they published the actual e-mails between Sperling and Woodward. Frankly, I was underwhelmed. Follow me below the fold to read them.
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