September 20, 2013

Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia Mass Shooting Lawsuit

Navy-Yard-shooting-lawyer-dc-maryland-virginia

(Credit: Randi Deuro)

If you or someone you love was seriously injured or killed in the tragic Washington, D.C. Navy Yard mass shooting, please contact The Cochran Firm, D.C.  We are actively investigating claims regarding this senseless tragedy that should never have happened.

You may be left with hospital expenses, physical therapy, funeral expenses, therapy bills, medical bills, in addition to being devastated and suffering from the senseless loss of a family member.  If robust security procedures and hiring protocols had been in place, the Navy Yard shooting may have been prevented or mitigated.

Civil lawsuits may answer lingering questions about individuals and corporations who may have been able to prevent this horrible mass shooting.  Possible defendants in legal claims arising from the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard shooting include federal security contractors, gun manufacturers, gun stores, security personnel, and others whose negligence or recklessness possibly contributed to the tragic deaths and injuries on September 16, 2013.

Killer had a known history of violence & mental illness

Aaron Alexis went to the Veterans Administration for serious mental illness problems.  He reported hearing voices, paranoia, and sleeping problems.  Although he had a criminal history and known violent tendencies, Aaron Alexis was employed by a federal IT contractor known as The Experts.  The contracting company reported to CNN that the background checks it allegedly conducted on Alexis revealed no criminal issues other than a traffic violation.

In the weeks leading up to the tragic Navy Yard shooting, Alexis displayed increasingly bizarre and erratic behavior, according to the New York Times.  His disturbing behavior was noted by hotel employees, guards at a Virginia airport, and police in Newport, Rhode Island.  While staying at a Middletown, R.I, Residence Inn, Alexis complained about phantom noises.  He reportedly called police in Rhode Island to say people were following him from Virginia.  He was reportedly belligerent and yelling obscenities at a Norfolk, Virginia airport and only calmed down after security guards intervened.  On July 5, 2013, a police report was filed against Alexis in Texas accusing him of putting sugar in the gas tank of a car.

The shooter Aaron Alexis used a valid identification card to enter Building 197 of the Navy Yard, which houses the Naval Sea Systems Command.  To enter Building 197, one needs an ID card for the Navy Yard and then a second ID card for this building.  Many questions remain about how the killer was able to transport a bag with a disassembled Remington 870 shotgun into this allegedly secured building.

Contact The Cochran Firm DC for a free consultation

The Cochran Firm, D.C., is actively and aggressively investigating claims related to the senseless Navy Yard mass shooting.  If you or someone you love was injured or killed in the shooting, contact us for a free consultation.  Because strict time limits apply to bringing legal claims, we recommend contacting us as soon as possible.

Why were Capitol Police prevented from stopping the Navy Yard Shooting?

When the U.S. Capitol Police attempted to stop the mass shooting, CBS News reports they were ordered by a watch commander to return to their position on Capitol Hill.  The Capitol Police team was less than 30 seconds from the Navy Yard base gate when the first phone call alerted police of the deadly shooting.  The Capitol Police team was prepared to enter the Navy Yard and stop the shooting when they were ordered to stop.  The Capitol Police Board has stated it is investigating the matter.  CBS reported that “[m]embers of the team are furious. They are convinced they could have saved lives.”  Questions remain as to why a well-trained, armed, and prepared team of expert law enforcement officers was ordered to leave the Navy Yard, run away from the sound of gunfire, and whether they could have prevented the killings.

Same Contractor That Ran Background Check on NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Vetted Navy Yard Shooter Aaron Alexis

Fall Church, Virginia-based USIS, a private company that conducts backgrounds checks, is reported to have vetted Aaron Alexis, a man who admitted to police that he had serious mental illnesses and heard voices, had numerous run-ins with police.  USIS, which is part of Altegrity, Inc. and owned by Providence Equity Partners LLC is the federal government’s top provider of background checks according to Bloomberg News.  In 2013, the Office of Personnel Management paid USIS $253 million for its services.

USIS is under a criminal investigation regarding the thoroughness of its background checks, according to the Washington Post.  The company also performed the background check on National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and allowed him to receive top secret security clearance.

Initially after the news came out about the shooting rampage, USIS denied that it vetted mass killer Aaron Alexis.  But eventually, the background check firm, which was originally known as U.S. Investigations Services Inc., admitted that it performed a background check on Alexis in 2007.  Alexis had an established history of serious mental illness, criminal arrests, and military misconduct.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, who chairs the Senate subcommittee handling federal contracts, criticized USIS and has called for serious changes regarding how security clearances are managed: “From Edward Snowden to Aaron Alexis, what’s emerging is a pattern of failure on the part of this company, and a failure of this entire system, that risks nothing less than our national security and the lives of Americans. What’s most frightening is that USIS performs a majority of background checks for our government. We clearly need a top-to-bottom overhaul of how we vet those who have access to our country’s secrets and to our secure facilities.”

Wrongdoers May Be Held Accountable

Horrible events like the Navy Yard shooting can happen because of poor oversight, inadequate management, or other negligent actions.  Fortunately, the civil justice system allows those who have been hurt by others’ wrongdoing to hold them accountable.  Bringing a legal claim may force companies, government units, and others to change their policies and procedures, making for a safer society that may be able to prevent future tragedies like the Navy Yard shooting.

Potential claims arising from the senseless Navy Yard mass shooting tragedy may include:

  • Wrongful death
  • Personal injury
  • Gross negligence in failing to take steps to prevent the shooting
  • Premises liability
  • Negligent hiring by the federal contractor that hired the mass shooter Aaron Alexis
  • Invasion of personal safety, security, or comfort
  • Failure to ensure the Navy Yard was operated in a reasonable manner in order to ensure the premises were reasonably safe from violent crime
  • Failure to adequately inspect entrants to the Navy Yard
  • Failure to provide a safe work setting
  • Failure to ensure the premises were adequately secure, safe, and guarded
  • Failure to employ a sufficient number of armed security guards
  • Failure to establish adequate security policies and procedures to secure the premises
  • Failure to use reasonable care to discover foreseeable dangerous conditions that resulted in Aaron Alexis’ entrance to the Navy Yard
  • Failure to properly train security personnel
  • Negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress
  • Inadequate surveillance or monitoring of suspicious activity of a military establishment that houses 16,000 people and 2.2 million square feet of office space.
  • Failure to warn about the known violent propensities of Aaron Alexis
  • Gross negligence in hiring and giving secret-level security clearance to an individual who was unstable and suffered from severe mental illness.

Inspector General report finds Navy cut costs & did not effectively mitigate risks

In a report released on Sept. 16, 2013, the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Defense concluded after a year-long audit that the Navy did not adequately control risks posed by outside contractors like Aaron Alexis at the Washington Navy Yard and other naval facilities.  These unreasonable risks resulted from, among other things, cost cutting measures.  Because of this poor oversight, the report found that 52 convicted felons received routine, unauthorized access, placing military personnel, dependents, civilians, and installations at an increased security risk.

Contact The Cochran Firm DC for a free consultation

The Cochran Firm, D.C., is actively investigating legal claims associated with the senseless Navy Yard mass shooting that took place on September 16, 2013.  If you or someone you love was injured or killed in the shooting, contact us for a free consultation.  Because strict time limits apply to bringing legal claims, we recommend contacting us as soon as possible.