Navy gunman spent night in Mass. Buddhist temple

  • Article by: DENISE LAVOIE
  • Associated Press
  • September 19, 2013 - 4:05 PM

RAYNHAM, Mass. — The former Navy reservist who authorities say killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard visited a Buddhist temple in Massachusetts last month where he talked about hearing voices in his head, according to a temple official.

Eang Tan, a board member at a Thai Buddhist temple in Raynham, said Aaron Alexis visited the house of worship on Aug. 18.

Tan said that Alexis asked one of the monks there if he could stay at the temple overnight, but was told that only monks were allowed to stay. One of the monks then asked him why he didn't stay in a hotel, Tan said.

"He said he couldn't sleep there because there was some noise in his head — some voices," Tan said Thursday.

Tan said a monk offered to let Alexis sleep overnight in an old school building nearby that is leased by the temple. The next morning, Alexis came back, thanked the monks and left, Tan said.

"He spoke fluently in Thai," Tan said. "He was calm and he was very polite when he talked to the monk. There was nothing strange or not normal about him."

"We didn't ask him questions. We just said, 'Welcome.' That's our tradition and our culture," Tan said.

The monk who spoke to Alexis contacted police after seeing his face on TV newscasts after the shooting, Tan said.

The modest temple Alexis visited is built inside a home in Raynham. On the same lot, temple officials are building a grandiose 103,000-square-foot temple that Tan said will be the largest Thai Buddhist temple outside of Thailand.

Friends have said Alexis converted to Buddhism and was a devoted Buddhist who prayed at a temple in Fort Worth, Texas. He had traveled to Thailand, where he learned some Thai.

After leaving the reserves, Alexis worked as a waiter and delivery driver at a Thai restaurant in White Settlement, a suburb of Fort Worth. A former co-worker said Alexis spoke to Thai customers in their native language.

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