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FBI says Navy Yard gunman left note about radio waves

Video footage released by the FBI on Wednesday shows Aaron Alexis in the Navy Yard building during his attack.
Video footage released by the FBI on Wednesday shows Aaron Alexis in the Navy Yard building during his attack.FBI via Reuters

WASHINGTON — Washington Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis left a note saying he was driven to kill by months of bombardment with extremely low-frequency radio waves, the FBI said Wednesday in a disclosure that explains the phrase he etched on his shotgun: ‘‘My ELF Weapon!’’

Alexis, 34, did not target particular individuals during the Sept. 16 attack in which he killed 12 people, and there is no indication the shooting stemmed from any workplace dispute, said Valerie Parlave, assistant director of the FBI’s Washington field office.

Instead, officials said, his behavior in the weeks before the shooting and records recovered from his hotel room reveal a man increasingly in the throes of paranoia and delusions.


‘‘Ultra-low frequency attack is what I’ve been subject to for the last 3 months, and to be perfectly honest that is what has driven me to this,’’ read an electronic document agents recovered after the shooting.

The attack came one month after Alexis had complained to police in Newport, R.I., that people were talking to him through the walls and ceilings of his hotel room and sending microwave vibrations into his body to deprive him of sleep.

On his shotgun, he had scrawled ‘‘My ELF Weapon!’’ — an apparent reference to extremely low-frequency waves — along with ‘‘End to the Torment!,’’ “Not what yall say,’’ and ‘‘Better off this way,’’ the FBI said.

Alexis, a former Navy reservist and computer technician for a government contractor, used a valid badge to get into the Navy Yard and opened fire inside a building with the sawed-off Remington shotgun, which he had legally purchased in Virginia two days earlier. He also used a 9mm handgun that he took from a security guard.

He was killed in the building by a US Park Police officer after a rampage the FBI said lasted more than an hour — longer than authorities previously indicated.


‘‘There are indicators that Alexis was prepared to die during the attack and that he accepted death as the inevitable consequence of his actions,’’ Parlave said.

Surveillance video released by the FBI shows Alexis pulling his rental car into a garage, walking into the building with a bag, and then skulking down a corridor with a shotgun, ducking and crouching around a corner, and walking briskly down a flight of stairs.

Alexis had started a job in the building just a week before.

Although there was a ‘‘routine performance-related issue addressed to him’’ on the Friday before the Monday morning shooting, ‘‘there is no indication that this caused any sort of reaction from him,’’ Parlave said.

‘‘We have not determined there to be any previous relationship between Alexis and any of the victims,’’ she said. ‘‘There is no evidence or information at this point that indicates he targeted anyone he worked for or worked with. We do not see any one event as triggering this attack.’’

Defense officials have acknowledged that a lot of red flags were missed in Alexis’s background, allowing him to maintain a secret-level security clearance and access to a Navy installation despite a string of behavioral problems and brushes with the law.

He worked for The Experts, a Florida-based computer firm that was a Hewlett-Packard subcontractor. Hewlett-Packard said Wednesday that it was severing ties with The Experts, accusing the company of failing to respond adequately to Alexis’s mental health problems.


At the Pentagon, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the department will review base safety procedures and the security clearance process.