Texas Friends Describe Aaron Alexis as Devout Buddhist With an Angry Streak

Categories: Crime

Aaron Alexis
At this point, no one is quite sure what made 34-year-old Aaron Alexis walk into the Washington D.C. Navy Yard on Monday and allegedly open fire, killing 13 people. Yesterday afternoon, the FBI put out a call "for any information regarding Alexis."

"No piece of information is too small," Valerie Parlave, assistant director of the FBI's Washington field office, told the media. "We are looking to learn everything we can about his recent movements, his contacts and his associates."

The media spent Monday digging up exactly that. Public records and interviews reveal Alexis as a complex character, a devout and good-natured Buddhist who harbored serious anger issues.

See also: Aaron Alexis, Dead Washington Navy Yard Shooting Suspect, Used to Live in Fort Worth

"He never had a threat in his voice or anything like that," Michael Ritrovato, identified as a close friend, told The Dallas Morning News.

Kristi Suthamtewakul, another close friend who, along with her husband, runs Fort Worth's Happy Bowl Thai restaurant, where Alexis sometimes worked, told WFAA: "He just didn't seem like he was that kind of person who would be upset enough to do something like this. That's why we're confused."

And Melinda Downs, his former roommate, told the station, "I've seen him mad, but not murder mad."

That anger, though, may have been more of a problem than friends realized. He's been arrested three times in three states over the past decade and was discharged from the Navy Reserve, in which he served from 2007 to 2011, for "a pattern of misconduct."

Here's the Washington Post's summary of those incidents:

In 2004, Alexis was arrested in Seattle after he fired three shots from a Glock pistol into the tires of a Honda Accord that two construction workers had parked in a driveway adjacent to Alexis's house. Alexis's father told detectives then that his son "had experienced anger management problems that the family believed was associated with PTSD," or post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the police report. The father said Alexis had been "an active participant in rescue attempts of Sept. 11, 2001."

Alexis's explanation for his behavior that day: The construction workers had "mocked" and "disrespected" him and then he had "a black-out fueled by anger."

He was arrested but not charged, Seattle police said. The paperwork apparently was lost.

Four years later, he spent two nights in jail on a disorderly conduct charge. Then came his 2010 arrest in Fort Worth. He was living in the Orion at Oak Hill apartments at the time when, according to police, he fired a handgun through his ceiling.

The woman above called the cops and told them that she was "terrified" of Alexis and that he had confronted her in the parking lot a few days before about making too much noise. Alexis explained to police that he had been cleaning the gun while cooking dinner, which was why his hands were slippery, which was how his hand slipped and pulled the trigger.

He was booked into jail, but the Tarrant County DA's office determined the shooting was accidental and decided not to prosecute.

The Morning News offers the most thorough account of Alexis' time in Fort Worth. He befriended a group of Thai Buddhists while working at the naval base there, and he began attending the Wat Busayadhammavanaram Meditation Center.

He lived with Happy Bowl co-owner Oui Suthamtewakul for three years while he learned Thai from conversations with friends and watching Thai dramas on TV. He moved out when the Suthamtewakuls got married and not long after that landed a job with a contractor for a Hewlett-Packard subsidiary that took him to D.C.

When he left, he seemed excited about the move, offering no hint of what was to come. His friends are left searching for clues in his penchant for violent video games, moody streak, and his resentment that the federal government didn't pay him what he was owed.

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holmantx topcommenter

I prefer the schizophrenics stick with small arms instead of area weapons.


America does not have a functioning Mental Health Care "system."  We have a haphazard collection of mental health professionals that typically require significant out of pocket costs to obtain.  Add to that easily obtainable weapons of mass destruction and you get exactly what you have here.  Every system is perfectly designed to achieve the results that it gets.  This is what our system achieves. 


Myrna would be in a banning mood if she realized just what an enterprising fellow can cook up with merely the ingredients from a run to the grocery store & the hardware store.  Ignorance is bliss, I guess.


I loves me some "Fish Called Wanda":

Otto West: Don't call me stupid.

Wanda: Oh, right! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I've known sheep that could outwit you. I've worn dresses with higher IQs. But you think you're an intellectual, don't you, ape?

Otto West: Apes don't read philosophy.

Wanda: Yes they do, Otto. They just don't understand it. Now let me correct you on a couple of things, OK? Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not "Every man for himself." And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.


Wow very disturbing. You can't ever tell who's going to go over the edge & who can keep their demons at bay

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Another mass shooting.  Guns kill.  Guns make it easy to kill a lot of people.

holmantx topcommenter

Why do some mentally ill go postal?  We all know why.  What are we going to do about it?  Nothing.  Nothing other than flitting around the issue and politicizing it to use as trade bait on some other issue.  

Someone told Sen. Reid yesterday  Denver flooded and he went off on a globa, er, climate change rant in Bangladesh.  I kid you not.

This is what passes for leadership on the pressing issue of the day.  

Now comes another nut hearing voices but this one is issued an ID to access a military base and into the heart of a "gun free zone".  Multiple run-ins with the law and a history of mental illness and the Prez sees a teachable moment on gun control.

Hey Mr. President?  Think you can get control of your military reservations first?  Then you might want to get your head around schizophrenia since its these guys every friggin' time whose mental spoon flies off their head grenade, and they go live.

And for God's sake, STOP issuing IDs to known crazies who, if cut off from small arms, will just cook up a slew in their basement to unleash upon the general population.


@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz However, we will never be able to have an intelligent conversation about gun control.  The only thing which might have helped is a complete ban.  We all know this will never happen.  The failure rests with law enforcement regarding the three arrests (2 involving weapons and 1 deadly contact) which were never prosecuted.  If he was able to gain security clearance he would be able to pass a ATF background check. 

The system failed.


@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Sarin Gas makes it eaasy to kill a lot of people. Ammonia Nitrate & Diseal Fuel can kill a lot of people. Key behind all of this is a PERSON. Dont blame the instrument, blame the person who does the act.

RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @unclescrappy Right.  All those people who hate that guns are so easy to obtain should move to someplace that makes it really difficult to obtain or own a firearm, which, by extension, should be safer, right?  

Let me know Chicago's final firearm homicide numbers at the end of the year.

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