Last night, in the wake of yesterday's shooting at the Washington Navy Yard that resulted in the death of 13 people, members of the media went all in on trying to understand the suspected shooter, Aaron Alexis (partially because of requests from authorities for more information on Alexis and partially because web traffic), resulting in this story-pushing tweet from The Wall Street Journal
Suspect in Navy Yard shootings was skilled in first-person shooting videogames, says friend. http://t.co/pwKTaU5wsd— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) September 17, 2013
The article itself is an interview of an associate of Alexis, who met him at a Buddhist temple. The two became fast friends, sharing a place to live, helping each other move and drinking together. Granted, the headline plays into the cultural narrative claiming that video games are the source of all our world's ills ("Another friend, Michael Ritrovato, a government worker, said he witnessed Mr. Alexis playing first-person shooting games online," which probably isn't the greatest information one could cherry pick from an interview, probably), but that's a rant for another time — probably in about three hours, when Headline News and its ilk lose momentum and they tie the release of Grand Theft Auto V to the incident, somehow.
Later on, an interview from HLN's Dr. Drew On Call
tries to paint a picture of Aaron Alexis as someone who was mentally unstable, filled with rage, a quiet sociopath haunted by PTSD from his time aiding in rescue efforts after 9/11...only the show's guest, a friend of Alexis, didn't bite
, noting over and over that he was beloved by the patrons of the restaurant in which he worked, and that Alexis was just as affectionate toward them.
Everyone searches for answers during times like these, after tragedies in which a person goes on a shooting rampage that erases the lives of dozens. TV is blamed, movies are blamed, military service is blamed, video games and books and music are blamed...but even if those could be considered contributing factors, Alexis was just a guy who worked, drank beer, played video games and prayed at his local Buddhist temple.
We might not know what caused the shooting at the Navy Yard — not for some time, at least. But for now, it seems that Aaron Alexis, for all of his faults and issues, was a regular guy like the rest of us.
Which is, honestly, the scariest trait a mass shooter could have.