Indian-origin man among victims of Navy Yard massacre

Vishnu Pandit was a resident of North Potomac, MD.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: One of the victims of Monday’s mass shooting at the Navy Yard was a man of Indian origin, Vishnu Pandit.

Pandit, a 61 year-old resident of North Potomac, Maryland, was one of seven individuals whose names were released by the DC Metropolitan Police. Five other victims’ names have yet to be released. No other information was released about Pandit or any of the other victims thus far.

Questions continue to be asked about the motive of yesterday morning’s senseless shooting spree in southeast Washington, DC. The perpetrator, who was killed by law enforcement officials during a shootout, was identified Monday evening as Aaron Alexis, an IT contractor from Texas who worked with the Navy and had a history of mental and firearm-related issues.

Not much is known about the 34 year-old African-American assailant; he enlisted to be in the US Navy in 2007, but was honorably discharged in early 2011 (the Navy originally wanted to simply give him a “general discharge,” which is considered inferior to an honorable one, but were unable to do so because of a Navy program called the Early Enlisted Transition Program).

He was arrested in 2010 for allegedly firing a gun through the ceiling of his apartment, but charges were not filed. Officials are now saying that the FBI was unable to pick up on any warning signs from Alexis — or, for that matter, any other potential shooter out there right now — because arrests that are not ultimately charged or lead to convictions do not get recorded in a person’s permanent criminal record.

ABC News is also reporting that Alexis had a history of playing violent military-style video games, such as the ones in the popular “Call of Duty” franchise.

Authorities are still trying to ascertain exactly how Alexis was able to get his weapons — an assault rifle, a shotgun, and a handgun — onto a secure military site, especially since military employees at the base are generally unauthorized to carry firearms, even for their own protection. There is no word yet on if the Navy Yard is in the process of re-constructing its security protocols to prevent another such incident, though such action is likely forthcoming.

Gun control, media violence, mental screenings, government background checks — all these, and potentially more, will come under scrutiny now in the wake of yesterday’s tragedy.

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