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Who is Navy Yard Gunman Aaron Alexis?

By Chelsea J. Carter. Ed Lavandera and Evan Perez CNN | 9/17/2013, 9:12 a.m.
Aaron Alexis,34, is the contractor the FBI has identified as a suspect in the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard on Sept. 16, 2013.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The picture emerging of the dead gunman in Monday's rampage at the Washington Navy Yard is a study in contrasts, one of a man who practiced languages and meditated, and another of a cold-blooded killer.

The gunman was identified as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, a former Navy reservist and a current military contractor, the Washington FBI Field Office told CNN. His identity was confirmed by fingerprints and a picture ID card, the FBI said.

Authorities have not released a possible motive in the morning shooting at the headquarters for Naval Sea Systems Command that left 12 people -- and the gunman -- dead. But a friend said Alexis was locked in a dispute over money with the company that contracted him to work for the Navy.

Investigators also learned that Alexis had recently made contact with two Veterans Administration hospitals for apparent psychological issues, law enforcement sources told CNN on Tuesday.

Authorities said earlier that they are confident that Alexis was the lone gunman, bringing to an end a daylong police search for a possible second suspect.

Gaining access

Alexis was carrying a military-contractor ID that matched his appearance, a D.C. Metropolitan Police official told CNN on condition of anonymity.

Alexis used that ID to gain access to the Navy Yard, according to a U.S. law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation.

He drove onto the installation and parked before walking a short distance to Building 197. Once inside, according to the official, Alexis made his way to an overlook above the atrium and opened fire into the cafeteria.

Initial reports said Alexis used an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle during the attack, but by Tuesday, law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation said that was not the case.

It is believed that Alexis had rented an AR-15, but returned it before Monday's shooting, the officials said. Investigators have recovered three weapons from the scene, including a shotgun that Alexis is believed to have brought into the compound. The other two weapons -- handguns -- the sources say, may have been taken from guards.

While the FBI was urging anyone with information about Alexis to come forward, investigators were focusing on reported incidents, including police run-ins, that portray a man with increasingly violent tendencies.

Many surprised

There were no indications that Alexis had any ideological differences with the Navy or any disagreements with anyone at the Navy Yard, the U.S. law enforcement official said.

Alexis' family reeled at the news that he was believed to be the man behind the killings.

"What I do know is he wasn't that type of person," Anthony Little, who identified himself as Alexis' brother-in-law, told reporters outside his Brooklyn, New York, home. "I didn't really hear anything that would make me feel, as a newcomer to the family, that somebody should be watching him."

He said the family's initial reaction was "very distraught, very stressed out, tears."

"You know, they didn't see it coming," said Little, who is married to Alexis' sister Naomi. "Their hearts are going out more to the victims and the people that got hurt because, you know, there's more lives lost and we don't need that right now. We really don't."