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Navy Yard shooter had odd episode in R.I.

Told police lastmonth of voices, vibrations

Aaron Alexis

Handout/Getty Images

Aaron Alexis had served in the Navy Reserve for four years until he asked for, and received, an early discharge in January 2011.

About a month before he gunned down 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard, Aaron Alexis told police in Newport, R.I., that he heard voices speaking to him through the walls of his hotel room and felt a machine sending vibrations into his body, according to authorities.

Alexis also indicated that he was a naval contractor who had spent time at Naval Station Newport, prompting police to alert officials at the base to Alexis’s strange behavior, according to an incident report filed by Newport police on Aug. 7.

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Alexis’s name is redacted in the Newport police report, but it has been widely reported by the Associated Press and other media outlets that he was the person in question.

According to the report, Alexis told police who came to his room on the morning of Aug. 7 at a Marriott hotel in Newport that he was a contractor who travels often and that he had an argument with an unknown person while boarding a flight to Rhode Island from Virginia. The report said Alexis “believes that the individual that he got into an argument with has sent three people to follow him and keep him awake by talking to him and sending vibrations into his body.”

He told police that he believed the three people were two black males and a black female, according to the report. He indicated that he first heard them talking to him through a wall at a Residence Inn in Middletown, R.I., so he left to stay at a hotel at the naval base, where, he said, he continued to hear voices through the walls, floor, and ceiling.

Alexis, 34, added that when he moved to the Marriott, “the individuals [were] using ‘some sort of microwave machine’ to send vibrations through the ceiling, penetrating his body so he cannot fall asleep,” according to the report.

He refused to tell police what the voices were saying to him and said “he has never felt anything like this and is worried that these individuals are going to harm him.”

‘‘He was concerned for his own safety,’’ Newport police Lieutenant William Fitzgerald told the Associated Press.

A Newport officer told Alexis to stay away from the people who were following him and to notify police if they tried to make contact with him, according to the report.

Alexis added that he had no history of mental illness in his family and had never had any type of psychological episode, according to Newport police.

His travels in Rhode Island included the Residence Inn, then an unnamed hotel at the base, followed by the Marriott.

The revelations followed reports that Alexis had struggled with mental illness and anger management problems for several years before Monday’s shooting spree. Authorities say he entered the Navy Yard in Washington and shot and killed 12 people before he died during a gunbattle with police.

Alexis had served in the Navy Reserve for four years until he asked for, and received, an early discharge in January 2011. The New York Times reported Tuesday that Alexis had a history of disciplinary infractions as a reservist and mental health problems.

He also had several run-ins with civilian police, including being investigated three times, twice for weapons violations. In one episode, he shot through the ceiling of his apartment near Fort Worth, but told police it was an accidental discharge made while cleaning his weapon. In the second, he was accused of shooting out a car’s tires near his previous home in Seattle, which he attributed to an anger-fueled blackout, according to news reports.

Alexis went to a Veterans Affairs hospital in Providence on Aug. 23, complaining of insomnia, but did not say that he was hearing voices, a senior federal official told the Times.

Doctors prescribed him Trazadone, an antidepressant commonly used to treat insomnia, the official told the Times.

In the Marriott incident in Newport, police Sergeant Frank C. Rosa Jr. wrote in a supplemental entry to the report, “based on the Naval Base implications and the claims that the involved subject . . . was ‘hearing voices’ I made contact with on duty Naval Station Police.”

A representative of that police agency told Rosa that the base would follow up on Alexis to determine if he was, in fact, a naval base contractor, he wrote.

The base referred questions to the FBI Tuesday night, and a spokeswoman for the bureau declined to say what actions, if any, were taken in response to the Newport police report.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.
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