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US probes shooting suspect Aaron Alexis amid calls for new gun control debate

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US probes shooting suspect Aaron Alexis amid calls for new gun control debate


A small group of protesters held a night-time candlelit vigil against gun violence in Washington after Monday’s mass shooting at a US Navy base which left 13 people dead including the gunman, and another eight injured. One senator has called on Congress to resume a “thoughtful debate” on gun control.

As America begins several days of mourning for the victims, the focus is on the man who went on the rampage armed with a military-style assault rifle and other weapons.

34-year-old Aaron Alexis had had two gun-related brushes with the law and was discharged from the Navy Reserve after a series of misconduct issues.

After leaving the military he worked at the Happy Bowl Thai restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas.

“He’s never shown any sign of (being) angry or aggressive or you know anything you know, I don’t know, he might be depressed. I mean I don’t know, for his job or whatever reason,” said Oui Suthamtewakul, a friend of Alexis who knew him there.

The Navy had his home listed as New York, the city where Alexis was born and grew up. His father had previously reported that he had anger issues. But it seems none of the family expected this.

“Well, their initial reaction I wasn’t here for. But when I got here they were very distraught, very stressed out. Tears. You know they just didn’t see it coming, it’s very hurtful. And their hearts are going out more to the victims who got hurt because you know it’s more lives lost and we don’t need that right now,” said Aaron Alexis’ brother-in-law Anthony Little, outside the family home in Brooklyn.

The attack raises security issues: as a contractor, Alexis had a valid pass to enter the base.

Initial reports that there may have been a second gunman were later discounted.

President Obama called it “yet another mass shooting”. This time the scenes of pandemonium spread fear across the US capital.

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