WASHINGTON — Aaron Alexis lived for a time in a rented bungalow near a Buddhist temple in Fort Worth, Texas, where he occasionally joined Thai immigrants in meditation. Alexis died Monday in a gunbattle with police in a building at the Washington Navy Yard.
In between, the man named as the shooter in Monday's mass shooting at Navy Yard Building 197 was discharged from the Navy Reserve, arrested for shooting a bullet into his downstairs neighbor's apartment and then asked to leave his Fort Worth apartment.
Alexis was discharged in January 2011 for "a pattern of misconduct" and the 2010 gun incident in Texas played a role in his departure, the Washington Post reported, citing an unnamed Navy official.
Another Navy official said Alexis was given a "general discharge," a classification often used to designate a blemished record of performance. In some cases, a general discharge can make it difficult to land a civilian job.
Alexis, 34, arrived in Washington about four months ago, friends said. He had worked recently for a defense contractor called the Experts, a subcontractor on an HP Enterprise Services contract to work on the Navy Marine Corps' Intranet network, said Hewlett-Packard spokesman Michael Thacker. Officials at the Experts did not immediately return phone messages.
It was unclear if Alexis was still employed by that subcontractor, or if his work had brought him to the Navy Yard.
Investigators Monday night were examining how Alexis got into the Navy Yard, and whether he had or used the identification card of a former Navy petty officer that was found near Alexis' body after police killed him.
Those who knew Alexis in recent years described him:
• "A good boy," said Srisan Somsak, his landlord in Fort Worth.
• Someone who was "very aggressive," someone who seemed like he might one day kill himself, said J. Sirun, an assistant to the monks at the Buddhist temple where Alexis worshipped.
Alexis grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., with his mother, Sarah, and father, Anthony Alexis, according to his aunt Helen Weeks.
"We haven't seen him for years," Weeks said in a phone interview. "I know he was in the military. He served abroad. I think he was doing some kind of computer work."
In 2004, Alexis was arrested in Seattle after he fired three shots from a Glock pistol into the tires of a Honda Accord that two construction workers had parked in a driveway adjacent to Alexis' house.
Alexis' father told Seattle detectives then that his son "had experienced anger management problems that the family believed was associated with PTSD," or post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the police report. The father said Alexis "was an active participant in rescue attempts of Sept. 11, 2001."
Alexis' own explanation for his behavior that day in Seattle: The construction workers had "mocked" and "disrespected" him and then he had had "a blackout fueled by anger."
Alexis was not charged in the Seattle incident.
More recently, Alexis struck those who crossed his path as a man of sharp contrasts. He studied the Thai language and visited Thailand for a month.
He was studying for an online degree in aeronautical engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The university in Daytona Beach said Alexis enrolled in July 2012, via the school's Fort Worth campus. He remained a student in good standing, said Melanie Hanns, director of university communications.
Alexis spent nearly four years in the Navy as a full-time reservist from May 2007 until he was discharged in January 2011, according to a summary of personnel records released by the Navy. He achieved his final rank of Aviation Electrician's Mate 3rd Class in December 2009.
Alexis spent the bulk of his service time — from 2008 to 2011 — assigned to the Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 46 at Naval Air Station Fort Worth, records show. He was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal — two awards of minor distinction.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Alexis worked as a defense contractor after his discharge. A deleted LinkedIn page under Alexis' name listed SinglePoint Technologies, a Richmond, Va., firm, as his employer; the company did not return a call seeking comment.
On Monday, as word spread about the shooting, Wat Busayadhammavanaram Meditation Center in Fort Worth filled with members eager to share their recollections of Alexis.
"They don't believed it that he could kill 12 people like that," said Somsak, the landlord who met Alexis at the temple. "I think probably somebody tried to put him down. I don't know. Did somebody try to discriminate against him? That's the only way. That's what I keep thinking."
Somsak asked Alexis only once about why he had left his job at the naval base. It was a brief conversation.
"I asked him, 'Why you quit the job with the government?' " Somsak said. "He said, 'Somebody doesn't like me.' "