Mother of Washington gunman apologizes, says ‘my heart is broken

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The mother of Washington Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis apologized to the victims yesterday and was unable to explain what drove her son to open fire on civilian workers inside a restricted military installation.

“I don’t know why he did what he did, and I’ll never be able to ask him why. Aaron is now in a place where he can never do harm to anyone, and for that I am glad,” Cathleen Alexis said in an audio statement aired on MSNBC from her home in New York. “To the families of the victims, I am so, so very sorry that this has happened. My heart is broken.”

All 12 victims, aged 46 to 73, were civilians caught up in the shooting spree on Monday morning by the former Navy reservist, who received security clearance to work as an information technology contractor at the site despite a history of misconduct and signs of mental illness.

Alexis, 34, was killed in a gun battle with police officers.

With his motive still a mystery, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel acknowledged there were “red flags” before Alexis received security clearance.

“Obviously when you go back in hindsight and look at all this, there were some red flags – of course there were,” Hagel told a news conference. “And should we have picked them up? Why didn’t we? How could we have? All those questions need to be answered.” The government Office of Personnel Management (OPM) acknowledged on Wednesday that during a 2007 security check of Alexis it had uncovered a 2004 arrest on a charge of malicious mischief, but said that the Pentagon decided to grant him clearance anyway.

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