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Ayotte wants answers on Navy Yard shooter

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is asking Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to explain the circumstances surrounding Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis’ discharge from the Navy in 2011.

In a letter sent Thursday today to Mabus, Ayotte asked why Alexis was honorably discharged, despite media reports that the Navy had originally pursued a general discharge. CNN reported Wednesday that after Alexis was involved in several confrontations, the Navy moved to seek a “general discharge,” which, CNN said, might have hindered his ability to get work in the civilian sector.

Instead, Alexis was honorably discharged because, a defense department official told CNN, he had never been convicted and there was a lack of evidence to merit a general discharge.

On Monday, Alexis roamed the halls and offices of Building 197 at the Washington Navy Yard, firing at will. He killed 12 people.

“Had Alexis received a general discharge, future employers would have been more likely to give his background extra scrutiny,” Ayotte wrote.

“This additional scrutiny may have helped potential employers identify Alexis’ reported arrests in three states and better informed their hiring decisions.

“I am concerned that the Navy may have missed opportunities to prevent this tragedy well before it happened,” wrote Ayotte.

Ayotte wrote, citing a Sept. 17 Washington Post story, “Alexis had a series of conduct-related issues with military and civilian authorities — including insubordination, disorderly conduct and unauthorized absence from work.”

Ayotte asked for a list of Alexis’ offenses “and the circumstances under which he was administratively punished prior to his discharge. Additionally, I request confirmation about whether the Navy originally sought a general discharge of Alexis and the grounds for that action, and an explanation as to why the Navy granted an honorable discharge in 2011.

Ayotte asked to what degree a potential contractor of civilian Navy employees’ discharge status is taken into account before hiring.

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