Article Lead Image

Navy Yard shooter identified after false initial reports

Meanwhile, journalists with both CBS and NBC retracted earlier tweets after wrongly reporting the suspect's name.


Kris Holt


Posted on Sep 16, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 6:25 am CDT

Authorities have identified the suspect killed in Monday’s mass shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, in which at least 12 people died. However, several networks had wrongly identified the suspect earlier in the day.

News networks pinned the shooter as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, formerly of Ft. Worth, Texas.

#BREAKING: Suspect in the D.C. Navy Yard shooting identified as Aaron Alexis, 34, originally of Ft. Worth, Texas, @PeteWilliamsNBC reports.

— NBCWashington (@nbcwashington) September 16, 2013

A U.S. official confirms to CBS that the deceased Washington Navy Yard shooter is 34-year-old Aaron Alexis of Texas

— WTOP (@WTOP) September 16, 2013

A LinkedIn account apparently belonging to Alexis was deleted this afternoon. Twitter users surfaced a mugshot of an Aaron Alexis of Ft. Worth arrested in 2010 over a firearm discharge. That man was 31 at the time, fitting the age of the Alexis identified in Monday’s shooting.


NBC reported Alexis was a civilian contractor, and the FBI believes he used the ID of a man who formerly worked at the Washington, D.C. naval facility to gain access.

LinkedIn appears to have taken down his page:

The New York Times earlier reported authorities identified the dead gunman through fingerprints, though did not release his name due to the initial confusion over his identity.

Meanwhile, journalists with both CBS and NBC retracted earlier tweets after wrongly reporting the suspect’s name.

BREAKING. @johnmillercbs advises the initial reports identifying the suspected shooter as Rollie Chance are wrong.

— Charlie Kaye (@CharlieKayeCBS) September 16, 2013

NBC News: we are now NOT reporting name of shooter; retracting that report. deleting those tweets

— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) September 16, 2013

There are clear parallels to the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, in which Ryan Lanza was wrongly identified as the killer, sparking a scramble to learn as much as possible about him from Facebook and Twitter. Authorities soon revealed shooter was actually his brother, Adam.

Elsewhere, a Reddit forum set up to track down the shooters didn’t last long. Reddit banned the satirical r/findnavyyardshooters subreddit Monday afternoon.

Screengrab via Fast Company

Earlier this year, amateur Reddit and 4chan detectives worked to find the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombings, but accused the wrong people—making the process of finding the suspects a lot more complicated.

UPDATE: The FBI is looking for any information relating to Aaron Alexis.

Aaron Alexis, deceased, is believed to be responsible for the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, in the Southeast area of Washington, DC, around 8:20 a.m. on September 16, 2013. The FBI is asking for the public’s assistance with any information regarding Alexis.

If you have any information concerning this individual, please contact the FBI’s Washington, DC Field Office at 202/278-2000 or 1-800-CALL-FBI.

UPDATE 2: According to Seattle Police, Alexis was arrested in Seattle in 2004 for shooting out the tires of a car. Alexis’s father told police at the time that Alexis suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and had been involved in rescue efforts during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Photo via afagen/Flickr

Share this article
*First Published: Sep 16, 2013, 3:56 pm CDT