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Mother of Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis: 'I don't know why...'

September 18, 2013|By Tina Susman | This post has been corrected. See note below.

Cathleen Alexis, the mother of Aaron Alexis, who shot to death 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard before being killed by police, apologized to the victims’ families Wednesday as she spoke out for the first time since the  rampage in the nation’s capital:

"Our son Aaron Alexis has murdered 12 people and wounded several others," she said. "His actions have had a profound and everlasting effect on the family of the victims. I don't know why he did what he did, and I will 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. To the families of the victims, I am so so very sorry that this has happened. My heart is broken. I'm done.”

Cathleen Alexis, who has been secluded in her Brooklyn apartment since the shootings Monday, made the brief statement to reporters gathered outside the building. She was dressed in black and flanked by two local pastors. She did not take questions and did not appear on camera.

Alexis and other family members have not addressed reports from police that Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old Navy contractor, had a history of mental illness. As recently as last month, he called police in Newport, R.I. to say he was hearing voices in a hotel where he was staying, and that the voices used "some sort of microwave machine" to send vibrations through the ceiling and into his body.

FULL COVERAGE: Navy Yard shooting

It is unclear how much contact Alexis had in recent years with his family, including his mother, father, two sisters and a brother-in-law, who live in New York City. Alexis grew up in the city but left more than a decade ago, and his last address was in Texas.

His father, Algernon Alexis, told police that his son claimed to have begun suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after helping rescue people from the rubble of the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but there has been no verification he actually was among the first responders.

Barry Rosen, a spokesman for the Borough of Manhattan Community College, where Alexis worked from Feb. 2001 to Feb. 2003, said his work record “does not indicate anything at all, good or bad or otherwise,” to hint at problems.

Asked if anyone there was familiar with his purported claim to have worked at Ground Zero after the 2001 attacks, Rosen said: “There is no indication that he was present at 9/11 and no record of him being a first responder. The college was close enough to Ground Zero that it provided a rest haven for first responders. But we have nothing to indicate that Alexis was involved in 9/11.”

[For the record, 4:49 p.m. PDT Sept. 18: An earlier version of this post quoted Cathleen Alexis as saying, "Aaron is now in a place where he can no longer do any harm to anyone. " Actually, she said, "Aaron is now in a place where he can no longer do harm to anyone."]


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