Washington (CNN) — While no specific reason has been given as to what spurred him to fatally shoot 12 people at Washington’s Navy Yard, Aaron Alexis’ overall mindset came into sharper focus Tuesday — including a history of trouble in the Navy and psychological issues.
That past includes a Newport, Rhode Island, incident on August 7, more than five weeks before Alexis was gunned down after single-handedly pulling off America’s latest mass shooting.
Describing himself as a Navy contractor, Alexis told police he believed an individual he’d gotten into a verbal spat with had sent three “people to follow him and keep him awake by talking to him and sending vibrations into his body,” according to a police report. Alexis said he hadn’t seen any of these people, but insisted they’d followed him between three hotels in the area — the last being a Marriott, where police investigating a harassment complaint encountered him.
There, Alexis told authorities the unseen individuals continued speaking to him through walls and the floor, and that they used “some sort of microwave machine” to send vibrations into his body to keep him awake.
Tuesday, on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” Michael Ritrovato spoke at length about his friend, suspected Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis. After expressing his condolences to the victims and their families, Ritrovato then expressed his shock over the actions of a man he described as being “like a brother to me” and a “good-natured guy.”
Ritrovato went on to explain that two of them had a close relationship based in part on their differences, specifically race and politics. Alexis was black, Ritrovato is white. Ritrovato described himself as conservative and Alexis is “more of a liberal type” who supported Barack Obama:
I would say things like, ‘You know, you are my brother from another mother.’ And he would say things like, ‘You’re my Italian mafia guy from New York.’ So we had things we joked about: Aaron wasn’t conservative like I am. He was more of a liberal type; he wasn’t happy with the former [Bush] administration. He was more happy with this [the Obama] administration — as far as presidential administrations.
Ritrovato said he hadn’t seen Alexis in a while. The last time they spoke was by phone, when Alexis talked about his frustration with the company he worked for. Apparently, the company was “slow to pay.” There have been other media reports about Alexis being upset with his company regarding some expenses incurred during a trip to Japan.
Ritrovato said that Alexis’ fondness for “violent video games” was the only red flag he saw in retrospect.