By Murray Weiss and Ben Fractenberg
NEW YORK — The gunman who went on a murderous spree at a Washington, D.C. Navy Yard before being shot to death by authorities Monday was a native New Yorker who once had an NYPD permit to fire rifles at local gun ranges, sources told DNAinfo New York.
Aaron Alexis, 34, who was killed in a gunfight with police after fatally shooting a dozen other people at a Washington Navy Yard, grew up on 77th Road in Flushing, Queens and attended Hillcrest High School, sources told “On The Inside.”
Law enforcement sources said that while Alexis was in high school he got into a dispute on July 3, 1997, with another student who slammed a glass bottle over his head.
After attending high school, he moved around New York, living briefly in Richmond Terrace on Staten Island and on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard before settling down in 2000 in an apartment on Halsey Street in Brooklyn.
That same year he applied for — and received — an NYPD permit to own a rifle and use it at local firearm ranges, the sources said. It was not immediately clear whether his permit was still active.
Sources said Alexis joined the Naval Reserves in 2007 and moved frequently around the country, including residences in Marietta, Ga., Bellevue, Wash., and, most recently, in Texas.
He has been arrested twice — once in Fort Worth, Texas, for firing a weapon in a public place in 2010, and for malicious mischief in Washington state in 2004.
In both cases, authorities declined to prosecute him.
The sources say it was not immediately clear whether Alexis, who left the Navy Reserves in 2011, worked as a Department of Defense contractor or was a civilian employee of the U.S. Navy.
He allegedly used another former employee’s identification to get past security guards at the Navy Yard and then opened fire, perhaps with an accomplice, who fled. Police believe he was working with another shooting suspect who was described as a man in his 50s with graying sideburns.
A motive for the massacre has yet to be determined, the sources said.
The shooting prompted the NYPD to ramp up security around the city, including at military recruiting stations, officials said.
Alexis' former Kew Gardens Hills neighbors were shocked at the thought of living so close to the accused killer.
"I'm floored. To think you've had interactions with this person. My heart breaks for those people," said Wendy Lopez, 36. She remembered Alexis as a quiet kid. She said she never noticed him or his sister hanging out with the other kids in the neighborhood.
"He was either coming or going to school," Lopez said.
She often saw him dressed in basketball shorts and a hoodie.
Lopez said she remembered the family being quiet most of the time, but she once had to go upstairs to complain when Alexis was bouncing the basketball on the floor too early in the morning.