Why wasn’t Navy Yard gunman charged in Seattle in 2004?

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SEATTLE — There are questions about whether the suspect in the Navy Yard shooting should have been charged with gun-related crimes when he lived in Seattle.

Aaron Alexis was living with his grandmother on Beacon Hill in 2004 when he shot the tires of a car parked next door. According to the Seattle police report, the construction worker who owned that car was not inside it at the time and was not hurt. But police say it was a serious incident.

navy yard shooting“It was a pretty dangerous crime,” said police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb. “Shooting a weapon at someone’s property, in public, broad daylight.”

Alexis was arrested for property destruction and discharge of a firearm, which are both misdemeanors. According to police records, the case was sent to the Seattle Municipal Court.  But Kimberly Mills with the City Attorney’s Office says their criminal division “shows no record of an SPD report coming in on Aaron Alexis.”

“Right now, what we’re looking at is whose mail truck did it fall off? Did it go over there and not get processed, or did it not leave here? We just don’t know,” Whitcomb said.

No formal charges were filed, so Alexis was released. He went on to join the Navy Reserve, then the government subcontractor The Experts.

They released a statement Tuesday that said: “We enlisted a service to perform two background checks and we confirmed twice through the Department of Defense his secret government clearance. The latest background check and security clearance confirmation were in late June of 2013 and revealed no issues other than one minor traffic violation.”

It’s unclear whether Alexis would have gotten that clearance if charges had been filed in 2004. But media were able to uncover his arrest in Seattle, and another gun incident he was involved in in Texas. So there are questions as to how thorough these background checks were.

“All of these events were documented, investigated and discoverable by anyone who wants to know,” said Whitcomb. “An arrest record is a public record.”

Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby addressed that issue on CNN.

“We’re taking a look at all his run-ins with the law, to see if anything should have been done differently,” Kirby said.

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