The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 18, 2013

Rahall puzzled by security breach at Navy Yard

By Mannix Porterfield
Register-Herald Reporter

— Just how a lone gunman managed to penetrate the security and conduct a rampage that left a dozen victims dead in the nation’s capital is a mystery that Rep. Nick Rahall says demands to be solved.

Before he fell victim to gunfire himself, former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis breached the Washington Navy Yard and began shooting at employees early Monday.

Alexis had been hearing voices and was treated for a mental disorder in the weeks leading up to the carnage but wasn’t denied his security clearance for the facility.

“How such a deranged, cowardly individual can get on such a secure campus is what I want to see fully investigated,” Rahall, D-W.Va., said Monday, just before speaking at Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s announcement that she is running for the U.S. Senate.

“And how could he get on such a secure campus with such heavy weapons is beyond my stretch of imagination.”

Investigators said a day after the gunfire that the motive that prompted the 34-year-old Texan’s outburst remained a mystery.

Rahall emphasized he wasn’t suggesting that Congress take the lead in an investigation to get to the bottom of the story that held the nation spellbound — the second such massacre at a military facility in four years.

Instead, the 3rd District congressman said he wants the proper law enforcement agencies “first and foremost” to look into all aspects of the shooting.

“I’m not calling on Congress to investigate, but the law enforcement process, and I feel confident that they will,” he said.

Rahall lives a short distance from the besieged Navy Yard and his wife was in Washington at the time of the shooting.

“That was my first thought,” he said. “I contacted her to make sure all was OK.

“I know the Navy Yard. I’ve been in there many times. I’ve been through the security. It’s a tremendous amount of security to get on that campus.”

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com