Washington Navy Yard Shooter Aaron Alexis heard voices and had paranoid delusions, according to a police report. Alexis, the presumed killer of 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard, contacted the police in Newport Rhode Island five weeks before his shooting spree at the Navy Yard, telling them that he heard voices in his head, and that he thought he was being attacked remotely by three individuals. The voices Alexis claimed to hear came through “the walls, floor and ceiling,” of a Rhode Island navy base where he worked. He changed hotels three times, believing that someone he had gotten into an argument with at an airport was having people pursue Alexis.
Alexis also believed that these people were sending microwaves through the ceiling of his hotel room to keep him from falling asleep. Not to speculate too much, but it seems that Aaron Alexis mentally externalized some of the noise going on in his own head, mistaking it instead for malevolent forces outside of himself.
Though the warning signs seem obvious in retrospect, Alexis’ case may not have seemed as severe as thousands of others who have symptoms of psychosis. He told the police that he had not had any psychotic episodes or any history of mental disturbance in his family (with the obvious caveat that he may have been an unreliable source). Police told Alexis to stay away from the people tormenting him. Alexis also sought treatment from the Veterans Affairs Department for mental health issues. It seems that he understood on some level that he had a problem. Though he sought help, no one was able to recognize just how deep these problems went.