(Photo: Reuters/Fort Worth Police Department/Handout via Reuters)
The mother of Washington Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis has said that she is heartbroken for the families of the victims of Monday's mass shooting, adding that she is "glad" that her son is no longer around to hurt anyone else.
"His actions have had a profound and everlasting effect on the families of the victims," Cathleen Alexis said in a statement on Wednesday, NBC News reported. "I don'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."
The 34-year-old former Navy reservist has been identified as the lone gunman in the deadly shooting in Washington that left 12 people dead. Alexis, who was shot dead by police during the incident, was a military subcontractor and had access to the Navy Yard. Various reports have tried to paint a picture of the man behind the shooting, noting that he suffered from mental health problems and appeared to be obsessed with shooter video games, but so far neither his family nor police have managed to identify a clear motive for the attack.
"To the families of the victims, I am so, so very sorry that this has happened. My heart is broken," his mother added in the statement.
Fresh accounts from people who knew him have emerged, all reacting with shock and disbelief that Alexis could have committed such a crime.
"So I can't really believe how he can shoot those people," said Om Suthamtewakul, a woman who Alexis stayed with while visiting Thailand in 2012. "He looked kind of like, you know, bonkers, crazy, in a positive way, like funny, but, so I really can't believe this."
Other reports have shown that the naval reservist served from 2007 to 2011, and had a military disciplinary record that included disorderly conduct, insubordination and unexcused absences. He has also been accused of shooting the tires of a car in Seattle in a 2004 incident, and in 2010 he fired a gun into an upstairs apartment in Fort Worth, Texas.
During the rampage on Monday, Alexis apparently shot a police officer and a security guard with a shotgun before taking one of their handguns and continuing the attack. While he also rented an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle that he used for target practice in Northern Virginia just two days before the attack, FBI agents have said they do not believe he used the same weapon in the shooting.
Alexis' father apparently told detectives following the attack that his son "had experienced anger management problems that the family believed was associated with PTSD," a police report said. He added that Alexis had also been an "an active participant in rescue attempts of Sept. 11, 2001."
President Barack Obama has sent his condolences to the families of the victims.
"The President, as he said yesterday, wants to express his condolences and to send his thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Tuesday. "He wants to commend the first responders, who did a remarkable job and responded quite quickly, saving lives and putting their own lives at risk as they did so."