The mother of Aaron Alexis, the Washington Navy Yard shooter, said Wednesday that she was heartbroken and sorry for the families of the victims, and that she was glad he is “in a place where he can no longer do harm to anyone.”
In a brief statement to a reporter in New York, the mother, Cathleen Alexis, said that her son “has murdered 12 people and wounded several others.”
“His actions have had a profound and everlasting effect on the families of the victims,” she said, her voice trembling. “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 no longer do harm to anyone, and for that I am glad.”
She added: “To the families of the victims, I am so, so very sorry that this has happened. My heart is broken.”
She took no questions after the statement.
Earlier in the day, a woman whom Aaron Alexis stayed with in Thailand last year said that he was crazy “in a positive way, like funny” and that she was shocked to learn that he had carried out the massacre at Navy Yard. The spree ended when Alexis was gunned down by officers.
The woman, Om Suthamtewakul, is the sister of a former roommate of Alexis’ in the United States. She told NBC News in an interview that Alexis stayed with her for a month and a half and showed no sign of anger.
“So I can’t really believe how he can shoot those people,” she said in Thai. “He looked kind of like, you know, bonkers, crazy, in a positive way, like funny, but, so I really can’t believe this.”
Authorities said Tuesday that they were still looking for a motive. Since Alexis carried out the attack, on Monday at the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command, signs have emerged of a troubled history.
Police in Rhode Island said that he had called them Aug. 7 and said that he had changed hotels three times because he believed people were chasing him and sending vibrations through the walls to keep him from sleeping.
Alexis, who served as a naval reservist from 2007 to 2011 and worked more recently as a civilian contractor, had a military disciplinary record that included disorderly conduct, insubordination and unexcused absences.
He also had run-ins with the law over gun violence. He was accused in 2004 of shooting the tires out of a car in Seattle, and in 2010 of firing a gun into an upstairs apartment in Fort Worth, Texas.
Friends and relatives of Alexis’ have also said that he had a preoccupation with the Sept. 11 attacks, felt slighted as a veteran, had money problems and was so unhappy with his life that he considered leaving the United States.
In Thailand, Suthamtewakul told NBC News that Alexis liked her country, “loved Thai woman” and wanted to go back. She said that she and Alexis went on outings in Bangkok and elsewhere and that they went to massage parlors in the evening.
“I wait and then we go home. Go to bed. This is like a routine, what we did,” she said.
She said that she never saw him show cruelty.
“Every day he has good mood, laughing,” she said, “and one time we went to the market together because he understand Thai and he heard one Thai woman saying rude words about him — but he didn’t get angry, he laughed and told the woman, ‘I understand what you said.’”
Authorities said Alexis used a Remington shotgun to shoot a police officer and a security guard before taking one of their handguns and continuing his rampage.
He rented an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and used it for target practice at a Northern Virginia gun range and store less than two days before his shooting spree. Some earlier reports said that he had used an AR-15 in the shootings, but the FBI said Tuesday that it did not believe he did.
J. Michael Slocum, a lawyer for Sharpshooters Small Arms Range in Lorton, Va., said in an email to NBC News that Alexis on Saturday bought a Remington 870 shotgun and roughly 24 shells of ammunition. Alexis listed his residence as Texas.
Slocum said he had no information on whether Alexis sought to purchase an AR-15 the day he visited Sharpshooters. Alexis bought the shotgun legally in Virginia, Washington Police Chief Cathy Lanier said.
A survivor of the rampage was released from hospital Tuesday after being shot in her head and hand. A police officer who was shot in his legs and a woman who was shot in the shoulder remained hospitalized, officials said.
Aaron Alexis, the man police say shot and killed 12 people in a Washington Navy Yard, reportedly called police to complain about people following him and that he was hearing voices. He sought mental health treatment from a nearby VA hospital, officials said. NBC's Pete Williams reports.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday ordered a review of government contractor and employee security across federal agencies. Asked about new gun-control measures in the wake of recent shooting sprees, Obama lamented what he said was Congress’ inability to take action.
“The fact that we do not have a firm enough background-check system is something that makes us more vulnerable to these kinds of mass shootings,” Obama said in an interview with Telemundo. He added that “ultimately this is something that Congress is going to have to act on.”
Federal law enforcement officials said that Alexis left a Residence Inn in Washington on Monday morning, drove a rental car to the Navy Yard and used his credentials to enter the base. Military officials said that Alexis had a security card that allowed him access to the Navy Yard but not to the office building where he later opened fire.
Once on the base, the law enforcement officials said, Alexis apparently entered a men’s room and readied a Remington pump-action shotgun. They said he walked out, shot a police officer and a security guard and took at least one of their handguns before continuing his rampage.
Inside the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command, on the fourth floor, Alexis sprayed bullets into a breakfast crowd in an atrium below, at others on a third-floor balcony and at at least one man in a fourth-floor corridor, according to authorities and eyewitness accounts.