Motive still mystery in Navy Yard attack

Red flags, unexplained etchings, poor police response. It’s been three days since Aaron Alexis went on a shooting rampage at the Navy Yard in Washington. And each new day since has brought new revelations about his past, the attack and the subsequent inquiry.

Navy Yard gunman trained at Great Lakes Naval Base

Late Wednesday night, the Navy Secretary said he’s ordered three reviews into security clearances. And the medical examiner’s office was completing its autopsy of Alexis.

Here’s a recap of the latest developments, meant to bring you up to speed in three minutes.

THE ATTACK

Disassembled shotgun: Alexis entered Building 197 with a disassembled Remington 870 shotgun in a small bag, a law enforcement official said. He’s seen on surveillance video ducking into a bathroom and leaving with the shotgun.

Unexplained etchings: Alexis etched phrases into the shotgun, a source said. But investigators don’t know what to make of it. They read: “Better off this way,” and “My elf weapon.”

THE RESPONSE

Stand down: A government official told CNN that when the first radio call came in about a shooting at the Navy Yard, highly-trained tactical U.S. Capitol Police officers headed to the base were told by a watch commander to stand down. The chief has now ordered an “independent fact review.”

Undermanned: The Navy Yard also has its own police force. But there were only seven officers working Monday, a police officer and a union official said.

THE SCENE

Blood everywhere: Navy officials say damage inside Building 197 is so extensive, it may take weeks to repair and reopen it. “There is blood everywhere,” one official said. “There is damage everywhere.” The base itself will resume normal operations Thursday.

THE VICTIMS

Steady recovery: One of the three hospitalized shooting victims has been released. The woman was struck behind the ear. Two others — a civilian and a police officer — remain in fair condition. The officer, Scott Williams, is believed to have fired the shot that killed Alexis.

THE MOTIVE

Still a mystery: Investigators have talked to Alexis’ friends and family. They’ve pored through his computers and other possessions. But, say law enforcement sources, nothing points to a specific motive for the rampage.

THE RED FLAGS

Hearing voices: In August, Alexis told police in Newport, Rhode Island, he was hearing voices and was convinced that someone was using a “microwave machine” to send vibrations into his body to keep him awake. Police notified the Navy. The Navy isn’t commenting.

Trouble sleeping: That month, the VA Medical Center in Providence gave him medicine to help him sleep. A few days later, he went to a VA Medical Center in Washington to request a refill. Both times, he was asked whether he was depressed or had suicidal or homicidal thoughts. He said he didn’t.

Disregarded warning: A senior Navy officer told CNN that Navy officials knew about Alexis’ 2004 arrest for shooting out the tires of a car, but they decided to grant him security clearance anyway in 2007.

THE MOTHER

‘So very sorry’: Alexis’ mother apologized Wednesday to the families of the victims, saying she didn’t know “why he did what he did, and I’ll never be able to ask him why.” “Aaron is now in a place where he can no longer do harm to anyone, and for that I am glad,” she said. “To the families of the victims, I am so, so very sorry that this has happened. My heart is broken.”

THE INQUIRY

Thorough review: On Wednesday night, the Navy Secretary ordered three reviews:

– 1) To see if his behavior on and off duty made him fit for duty or to hold security clearance

– 2) To see if a contractor is required to inform the Navy if it reviews an employee’s clearance

– 3) A thorough look at how security clearances are granted and renewed in the Navy

“Where there are gaps we will close them. Where there are inadequacies we will address them. And where there are failures we will correct them,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

CNN’s Pamela Brown, Chris Lawrence, Barbara Starr, Chris Cuomo, John King, Deborah Feyerick, Evan Perez, Tom Cohen, Dan Merica, Larry Shaughnessy, Brian Todd, Alan Silverleib, Susan Candiotti, Joe Johns, Ed Lavandera and Jake Tapper contributed to this report.

 TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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