Last September's mass killing at the Washington Navy Yard, which left 12 people and the gunman dead, could and should have been prevented, according to an internal Navy investigation.
The Navy report, released on Tuesday, resulted from one of three parallel reviews the Defense Department ordered in the aftermath of the Sept. 16 shootings. Navy IT contractor Aaron Alexis killed 12 people and wounded four others in the Navy Yard's Building 197.
The report found serious failures throughout the Navy's own system of personnel and physical security, but investigators laid the most serious shortcomings at the feet of the contracting chain that employed Alexis: HP Enterprise Services and its subcontractor, The Experts, Inc., according to Federal News Radio.
"If the proper procedures had been followed, the chain of events that led up to the shooting on the 16th of September would have been interrupted," said Adm. John Richardson, who led the Navy investigation. "If those contractors observe behavior that raises questions about an employee's suitability for access to installations or information, those concerns should be identified to the Navy, and those requirements were not met. They did observe those behaviors and did not make those reports, and so it was impossible for the Navy to act on that information."
The 40-member Navy review team brought forward several instances in which Alexis' employers allegedly witnessed his unstable behavior, but did not report it to the Navy, Federal News reported.
But the Navy report also says the shootings might have been prevented except for serious shortcomings in the government's own background investigation process, as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel acknowledged Tuesday.
"The reviews identified troubling gaps in DOD's ability to detect, prevent and respond to instances where someone working for us — a government employee, a member of our military or a contractor — decides to inflict harm on this institution and its people," he said.