WASHINGTON — The director of the FBI, James B. Comey, provided Thursday the most up-to-date account of the gunman’s rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, saying that he was “hunting people to shoot” as he made his way through the building but did not appear to have targeted a particular person or group of people.
“He emerged from the bathroom a few minutes after 8 with the shotgun and proceeded to almost immediately after coming out of the bathroom to shoot folks on the fourth floor in a way with no discernible pattern,” Comey said, referring to the gunman, Aaron Alexis. “And, it appears to me he was wandering the halls and hunting people to shoot.”
Comey, who made his statements in an interview with reporters at the FBI’s headquarters in Washington, said that Alexis entered the Navy Yard around 8 a.m. Monday and immediately headed to a bathroom on the fourth floor with a bag in his hands.
Moments after entering the bathroom, Alexis exited with the shotgun in his hands. Although the butt and the barrel of the shotgun had been partially sawed off, Comey said he did not know whether Alexis had the shotgun in the bag or had previously hidden it in the bathroom.
Despite previous accounts from law enforcement officials that Alexis fired down on people sitting in an atrium on the third floor of the building, Comey said that there was no evidence that he had done that.
He added: “He shot folks on the fourth floor, the third floor and then went down to the lobby and shot a security guard.”
After shooting the security guard, Alexis took the guard’s handgun and headed back upstairs, where he continued to shoot people with the shotgun, Comey said. Alexis, who kept some of his ammunition in a pocket of his cargo pants, began using the handgun after he had used all of the shotgun’s ammunition.
Comey said that people from different types of backgrounds and parts of the building were shot, leading him and investigators to believe that Alexis may not have been targeting a particular person or group, like co-workers. He said he did not know whether Alexis said anything during his rampage.
Roughly a half-hour after Alexis started shooting, a heavily armed team arrived, Comey said, followed shortly thereafter by a “sustained” exchange of gunfire between them and Alexis before he was killed.
“There is a period of time where he is isolated and pinned down by the responders, but I don’t know for sure how long that period is,” Comey said.
Comey said there were no indications that Alexis had ties to terrorists or was aided by others.
Although investigators have a better handle on what occurred Monday, based on interviews with victims and video surveillance footage, Comey said the authorities were still trying to determine what set off Alexis’ rampage. As part of those efforts, the authorities are examining Alexis’ electronic communications.