WASHINGTON -- Supervisors of the gunman who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard last year were concerned about his mental state before the shooting but never reported their fears to the government, officials said today.
If the contracting company that employed Aaron Alexis had told the government about his erratic behavior, he would have lost his security clearance and his murderous rampage might been prevented, according to a Navy investigation into the shootings.
Co-workers and supervisors at IT firm The Experts, a subcontractor for Hewlett Packard (IW 500/9), noticed Alexis behaved in a way that "raised concerns about his mental stability and presented indicators that he may cause harm to others," said the report.
"This information was not reported to the government as required," the probe found. "Had this information been reported, properly adjudicated, and acted upon, Alexis' authorization to access secure facilities and information would have been revoked."
Hewlett Packard, which oversaw the subcontractor, also failed to fulfil its duty to "continuously evaluate Alexis and report adverse information" to the Pentagon, according to the probe led by Admiral John Richardson.
On Sept. 16, 2013, Alexis entered Building 197 at the Navy Yard facility in the U.S. capital with a sawed-off shotgun and mowed down 12 people before police shot and killed him.
A separate Pentagon review found "missed opportunities for intervention" throughout Alexis' career in the military and as an employee with contractors, despite a pattern of "disturbing behavior."
If authorities and supervisors had acted on those alarming signs, they might have prevented "the tragic result at the Washington Navy Yard," it said.
Officers Failed to Record Events
During his service as a sailor, naval officers failed to properly document a series of incidents that could have jeopardized his security clearance, the Pentagon review said.
As a result, when he was hired by The Experts, the company had "no insight into Alexis' chronic personal conduct issues during his Navy service," it said.
And then his employer chose not to report signs of "psychological instability" to the military or to seek assistance from a mental health professional.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the reports "identified troubling gaps" in the Pentagon's ability to detect someone inside the organization who wants "to inflict harm on this institution and its people."
To counter the "insider threat," Hagel told reporters the department would create an automated "continuous" review of security permits issued to employees and contractors.
The system would screen those with access to classified information in real time against criminal records or other information that might raise alarms about their trustworthiness or mental state.
He also said the Pentagon would consider cutting the number of "secret" security clearances by "at least" 10%.
Hundreds of thousands of clearances are granted a year and the number has tripled since the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014