Investigators think that a workplace dispute may have played a party in Monday's Navy Yard shooting. According to officials, Aaron Alexis, the shooter responsible for killing 12 during his rampage, headed directly for the fourth floor, where he shot people he worked with.
Based on discussions with those who worked at the Navy Yard, law enforcement officials said, “He was not doing a very good job, and somebody told him that there was a problem...Our belief is that the people who were shot first were people he had issues with where he worked, people he had some sort of a dispute with. After that, it became random," officials said.
Law enforcement has yet to determine a motive in the shootings. On Thursday, Investigation Director James B. Comey said, “We’re attempting to understand as best we can his life up until the moment of that shooting, which would include trying to understand whether there were any issues related to work.”
The potential motive comes as investigators discovered an unexpected connection between the Navy Yard shooter and National Security Agency leak, Edward Snowden. Apparently, the same government contractor, Falls Church-based USIS, was responsible for vetting the two men for their jobs, which required security clearance.
The company is currently under criminal investigation to determine whether or not it misled the government about exactly how thorough they are about background checks. (Awkwardly, earlier this week, USIS had also denied having conducted Aaron Alexis' background check.) On Thursday, a spokesman for the company said that based on new information, they could confirm that they had in fact been responsible for the 2007 background check that gave the shooter security clearance to the Navy Yard facility.
There's no indication that the company was involved in any wrongdoing when it comes to the vetting of Alexis. The 2007 background check did in fact uncover an incident in 2004 where Alexis shot out the tires of a car. (It was classified as “malicious mischief," which sounds awfully playful to us.) The background check occurred before later run-ins between the police and the shooter, but lower-level clearances are typically considered valid for a period of 10 years, unless problems are reported by an individual or their employer.