D.C. shooter has strong ties to Queens
By Joe Anuta

The man who gunned down 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard Monday in the nation’s capital was a son of Queens who attended Hillcrest High School, authorities and multiple reports said.

Aaron Alexis, the 34-year-old U.S. Navy contractor who was killed by police after his murderous spree inside the Washington, D.C., military office building, was born in the borough May 9, 1979, according to the FBI.

He lived on 77th Road in Kew Gardens Hills, attended Hillcrest HS and obtained a rifle permit from the NYPD in 2000 to use at city shooting ranges, according to a report in the New York Post.

But authorities were still trying this week to piece together details from Alexis’ past and how the troubled computer contractor was allowed security clearance to gain access to the building.

“We also continue to conduct all other necessary investigation to learn about the activities and contacts of Mr. Alexis,” FBI Washington Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave said in a Sept. 16 statement. “We continue to conduct interviews, exploit digital media and run down every lead we can to piece together his recent movements and to determine the motive behind this attack.”

Alexis’ family still lives in Brooklyn, though a relative told the Post the gunman had not been in close contact with anyone there.

Alexis served in the Navy from 2007-11 and first obtained a security clearance in 2008 as a naval reservist, according to the Post.

But following a series of shooting incidents, run-ins with the law and being discharged from the Navy in 2011 for a pattern of misconduct, Alexis nevertheless obtained a security clearance after being hired by a subcontractor for Hewlett-Packard to update computer systems in Washington, according to a report in the Washington Post.

Alexis had been arrested multiple times — in one instance for discharging a gun in his Texas apartment, which shot into the apartment of a neighbor he often accused of being loud, according to the Washington Post. On another occasion, he shot the tires of a car in Seattle in what authorities referred to as a moment of blind rage.

Most recently, investigators discovered he had called police in Rhode Island last month and said he was hearing voices and was being followed by a group of unknown people, according to a CBS report.

Alexis is hardly the first Queens resident to gain national infamy.

Former Flushing High School students Zarein Ahmedzay, Adis Medunjanin and Najibullah Zazi were all found guilty of plotting to blow up New York City subways in 2010.

Last year, Ahmed Ferhani was sentenced to 10 years for his role in plotting to blow up New York City synagogues, while his alleged co-conspirator Mohamed Mamdouh is still awaiting trial.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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