Washington Navy Yard opening 3 days after massacre

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An FBI evidence response team vehicle is parked outside Building 197 at the Navy Yard in Washington as evidence is collected on Wednesday. A gunman killed 12 people at the base on Monday. AP

WASHINGTON — The Washington Navy Yard has begun returning to nearly normal operations, three days after a gunman killed 12 people.

The Navy installation re-opened at 6 a.m. (1000 GMT) Thursday, but traffic was blocked from reaching the main gate because a tractor-trailer tried to make a U-turn, and its load shifted.

Navy spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Flaherty said Thursday will be a regular work day, except for Building 197, where the shootings occurred, and the base gym. The gym is being used as a staging area for the FBI to investigate Monday’s rampage in which former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis gunned down 12 people before being killed by police.

Law enforcement officials are still trying to determine a motive for the shooting. Officials have said the 34-year-old gunman was grappling with paranoia, hearing voices and convinced he was being followed. A month before the shootings, he complained to police in Rhode Island that people were talking to him through the walls and ceilings of his hotel room and beaming microwave vibrations to deprive him of sleep.

On Wednesday, the Department of Veterans Affairs told lawmakers in Congress that Alexis visited two VA hospitals in late August complaining of insomnia, but that he denied struggling with anxiety or depression or had thoughts of harming himself or others. On Aug. 23 he visited an emergency room at the VA Medical Center in Providence, R.I. He made a similar visit five days later to the VA hospital in Washington.

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