Aaron Alexis Visited Raynham, Mass. Temple Last Month - NECN

Aaron Alexis Visited Raynham, Mass. Temple Last Month



    Aaron Alexis visited Raynham, Mass. temple last month

    Gunman who killed 12 at Washington Navy Yard visited Thai Buddhist temple (Published Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014)

    (NECN: Ally Donnelly) - Aroon Neampong says Aaron Alexis came to the Thai Buddhist temple in Raynham last month and spoke to the head monk in fluent Thai. The monk, who does not speak English, told temple board members like Neampong that Alexis was nice and respectful, but troubled.

    "When [the monk] looked at his eye, he was kind of ... missing something," Neampong said.

    Board members say 34-year-old Alexis asked the monk if he could spend the night at the temple, but the monk explained that they didn't have beds there and asked why he couldn't just go to a hotel.

    "He's saying something bother him in his head," said Neampong in broken English. "Like, I saw someone, I saw someone."

    The account is similar to what Alexis allegedly told Newport, R.I. police nearly two week before the temple visit and more than a month before investigators say he gunned down 12 people at the Washington Naval Yard.

    According to Newport Police, Alexis called officers to his hotel, saying voices were harassing him through his hotel room wall and he was afraid they were going to hurt him.

    Alexis was a defense contractor employee who was doing work at the Naval Station Newport. Police reported the information to officials at the naval station, but it's unclear what if anything was done with that information.

    It's also unclear why Alexis drove the 40 miles from Newport to the Massachusetts temple, but board members say he pleaded for a place to sleep and the monk gave it to him, letting him sleep on the floor of a building across the street from the temple.

    "Buddhists [are] kind of open, so people who need someone's help -- anything, we can do that," Neampong said.

    Neampong says Alexis stayed just the night, thanked the monk in the morning and left.

    The Buddhist calls the temple a place of love and peace that offered Alexis brief refuge. The monk called Raynham police as soon as he saw a picture of Alexis on the news Monday, the community stunned.

    "I feel bad, I'm shocked that he came to Thai temple one day and another three weeks, that guy is doing something very bad," said Neampong.

    Raynham Police turned what little information they had over to the FBI. Federal investigators won't talk specifically about his time in New England, but a spokeswoman says agents are working to build a profile of Aaron Alexis and how he spent his time.