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Many Questions Remain After Navy Yard Shooting In D.C.


We're going to have a little more now on the investigation into today's shooting. NPR's Justice Department correspondent Carrie Johnson has been following the story and she joins us. And, Carrie, let's start with the person who's been named as the shooter in the case, 34-your old Aaron Alexis. What else have you learned about him?

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Audie, as we've already said, as Brian just said, the shooter is dead. He died in a gunfight. The FBI and the Navy have come out and publicly identified him. He actually served in the Navy for about four years. He enlisted back in May 2007 out of New York City, where he has some family ties. And he served up until early 2011. More recently, we hear he was working as a civilian contractor for the Navy. He was an aviation electrician. He has some kind of background in aeronautical studies in schooling in college. He was decorated veteran. H won a couple of medals. And more recently, Audie, towards the end of his military service, he both applied for and received a concealed carry permit from state of Texas.

And he has one brush with the law. There was one allegation that he had discharged a weapon in his home. The neighbors called police and he - prosecutors never went ahead and brought formal charges against him. But he was investigated for discharging that weapon in his home.

CORNISH: Now, we just heard Brian Naylor talked a little bit about questions of motive. How is the FBI going to go about that part of the investigation?

JOHNSON: OK. So, unfortunately, we have a long and recent history of these kinds of incidents. What they normally do in this kind of situation is seek out his recent movements, any associations, electronic, in-person meetings, any communications he may have had with others. They are in the process of looking at all that now.

The FBI, which is now in charge of this investigation, has come out and said essentially, no piece of information is too small. We want to hear from anyone and everyone who has had contact with the shooter in recent days or recent years. They still don't know whether this is a workplace incident or some kind of connection to an external force. At this point, the D.C. mayor and others are saying, no ties to terrorism, but, obviously, they're still looking.

CORNISH: Now, another question, how did Aaron Alexis get into this secure Navy building in the first place?

JOHNSON: He, apparently - a federal law enforcement source told me - used someone else's ID. He used the identification of a 50-year-old African-American man, and that ID was found near his body in Building 197, which earlier today led to some confusion about the shooter's identity. That man whose ID was used has been in contact with authorities. They're asking him question now. He apparently was dismissed or had some kind of adverse workplace incident in recent weeks. But right now, he post as no treat, and they're asking him question.

CORNISH: Now, you talked about this ID of confusion, but there was also confusion about additional suspects. Can you sort that out for us?

JOHNSON: Yeah. There were so many law enforcement officers swarming over the scene all day long, FBI, ATF, local police, U.S. Marshals, other kinds of police in the city of Washington, D.C. Initially, the D.C. police chief said they were looking for three people. Since later in the day, she ruled out one white man who was seen on video footage earlier in the day, around the time of the incident, wearing some kind of camouflage or drab colors. He has been ruled out altogether as a suspect. The second person is the shooter dead at the scene. And the third person they were looking for, they may or may not have found. It was an older African-American man with graying sideburns.

They are going through the buildings now just to make sure everything is (unintelligible) there.

CORNISH: That's NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson. Carrie, thank you for the update.

JOHNSON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.
Audie Cornish
Over two decades of journalism, Audie Cornish has become a recognized and trusted voice on the airwaves as co-host of NPR's flagship news program, All Things Considered.