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Hunter Walker

Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at hunter@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Hunter

Although Navy Yard shooting suspect Aaron Alexis was arrested in 2004 in Seattle for allegedly shooting out the tires of another man's car, multiple officials in Washington State told TPM this week they are unsure what ultimately happened to his case.

Based on records and interviews with officials, it appears the case was never brought to the attention of a prosecutor. Instead, Alexis was simply released after his arrest in a situation that a representative for the Seattle City Attorney's Office repeatedly described as a "mystery."

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Aaron Alexis was accused of tampering with his roommate's car on July 5 while he was living in Fort Worth, Texas, according to a police report obtained by TPM via a public information request filed with the Fort Worth Police Department.

According to the report Alexis' roommate, Nutpisit Suthamtewakul, called police after "experiencing engine problems with his 2013 Honda Accord." After he pulled the car over, the report said Suthamtewakul saw scratches indicating "someone had used an unknown object to pry open" the door on the fuel tank. The report said Suthamtewakul also described seeing "light traces of some sort of granules inside the fuel door, around the fuel filler tube."

Based on this evidence, the report said Suthamtewakul suspected Alexis "put some substance in the fuel tank of the ... vehicle to intentionally cause damage." The report said Suthamtewakul told a police officer that he and his wife had "been having problems" with Alexis that had "escalated to the point that they have made it clear that [Alexis] will need to find somewhere else to live." It was not immediately clear whether charges were ever filed against Alexis for the alleged tampering. 

Since the Navy Yard shooting Monday, Suthamtewakul has spoken to the press extensively about his relationship with Alexis. In one interview, he described Alexis as his "best friend." According to the Wall Street Journal, Suthamtewakul said Alexis moved out of his house in May, two months before the police report about the car was filed. Suthamtewakul also told the Journal there was "some friction between his wife and Mr. Alexis over the family’s cats, which Mr. Alexis disliked." TPM left messages for Suthamtewakul on the cell phone number listed in the police report and at the restaurant he owns in Fort Worth but he has not yet responded. 

Alexis was arrested by the Forth Worth Police Department in 2010 for allegedly shooting a bullet through a neighbor's apartment. Charges were not filed in that case. Alexis was also arrested in Seattle in 2004 after an incident where he allegedly shot a car owned by a construction worker he felt had "mocked" him. 

View the full police report detailing the incident with Suthamtewakul's car below. TPM has redacted some address and phone number information. Other information was redacted by the Fort Worth Police Department. 

Ft Worth Police Report Aaron Alexis

This post has been updated.

A spokeswoman for Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker's U.S. Senate campaign on Tuesday denied an accusation from his Republican rival, Steve Lonegan, that Booker once owned a "crack house."

Silvia Alvarez, the deputy communications director of Booker's campaign, told TPM that the attack was part of a pattern of dishonesty from Lonegan. 

"There's one thing that has remained consistent throughout all of Mr. Lonegan's many campaigns stunts: it's his inability to tell the truth," Alvarez said. "The mayor purchased a property to renovate but ultimately went with a lower-cost option in Newark and donated the Court Street house to one of Newark’s best known and most effective charities. Efforts to cast in a negative light this act of charity, or the work the mayor has done to revitalize Newark, are unfortunate and misleading."

Lonegan's accusation, which he plans to address at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, was based on multiple newspaper reports about a property Booker acquired in 2009 and subsequently sold to a non-profit he founded earlier this year. Both the New York Post and the Bergen Record reported neighbors have complained about "squatters" at the property while it was owned by Booker. One neighbor told the Post she wrote "many many letters to [Booker] about squatters in the yard, people using drugs."

A spokesman for Lonegan's campaign told TPM they will address the accusation that the property was a "crack house" in greater detail at the press conference. On Twitter, Rick Shaftan, a senior staffer for Lonegan's campaign suggested the presence of squatters clearly indicated drug activity at the property.

"Squatters = Crackheads. Only the most naive liberals think otherwise," Shaftan wrote. 

Steve Lonegan, the Republican former mayor of Bogota, N.J. who is running against Newark Mayor Cory Booker in the Garden State's U.S. Senate race, is scheduled to have a press conference Tuesday where he plans to accuse Booker of having owned a "crack house."

Lonegan's "crack house" accusations are in response to reports published in the New York Post and Bergen Record in recent days about a property Booker obtained while mayor. The property drew complaints from neighbors who said it was left vacant and "overrun by squatters." 

"Mayor Steve Lonegan, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate, will hold a press conference today in front of Cory Booker's abandoned property, now a crack house," a press release announcing the event said. 

In another story published Monday, the Post reported a neighbor who lived near the building said she wrote "many many letters to [Booker] about squatters in the yard, people using drugs." According to the Record, Booker purchased the building in 2009 and sold it to a non-profit he owns for $1 "less than three weeks" after the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) announced he would not run for re-election in February of this year.

Lonegan's press conference is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET. TPM reached out to Lonegan's spokesman, Will Gattenby, to ask whether they had any evidence of drug-related activity at the building.

"I think we'll speak to that today in the press conference," Gattenby said.
 
Correction: This post originally said no stories had mentioned drug activity at the house. It has been updated to show that the Post reported on Monday about one woman's accusations of drug activity.

Neither Booker nor his office immediately responded to a request for comment.  
 

 

Aaron Alexis, the deceased suspect in Monday's Washington Navy Yard shooting, was also involved in an earlier gun-related incident in 2004 in Seattle that he blamed on a "blackout."

In response to "numerous inquiries about the incident," Seattle police on Monday released a summary of the May 6, 2004 case where Alexis was arrested for allegedly shooting out the tires of another man's car. The summary also included details about Alexis' apparent involvement in rescue work after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York City.

"At about 8 am that morning, two construction workers had parked their 1986 Honda Accord in the driveway of their worksite, next to a home where Alexis was staying in the Beacon Hill neighborhood," a post on the Seattle Police website said of the 2004 incident. "The victims reported seeing a man, later identified by police as Alexis, walk out of the home next to their worksite, pull a gun from his waistband and fire three shots into the two rear tires of their Honda before he walked slowly back to his home north of the construction site."

According to the summary, the construction workers told police Alexis had "stared" at workers at the site "every day over the last month prior to the shooting." They believed he was angry over parking near the site. 

When police arrested Alexis, he told them the workers "mocked" and "disrespected" him, leading to an anger-induced "blackout." Alexis also said he was "disturbed" by Sept. 11. His father told police Alexis had worked in the rescue effort after the attack. 

Police reports from Fort Worth, Texas showed Alexis also was arrested there in 2010 for allegedly shooting a bullet into an apartment occupied by a neighbor he had disputes with. His name was also linked to a Texas police report from July of this year after his roommate said he thought his "roomate put unknown substance in gas tank" of a vehicle he owned "to damage" it. It was unclear whether Alexis was the roommate accused tampering with the car in that case. 

 

 

The Navy Yard shooting in Washington, D.C. Monday wasn't the first time suspect Aaron Alexis was involved in a gun-related incident.

Police reports from Fort Worth, Texas, where the FBI said Alexis lived, described how he was arrested in 2010 for allegedly shooting a bullet into the home of a woman who lived upstairs from him in an apartment complex. An officer who arrived at the scene was told by the woman that she had a long history with Alexis and was "terrified" of him.

Authorities said Alexis was killed on Monday after he shot and killed 12 people and wounded others at the Navy Yard. Investigators late Monday had not yet said how Alexis had died.

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A source confirmed to TPM that New York City mayoral candidate Bill Thompson made calls to allies Monday morning informing them that he will concede to Bill de Blasio in the Democratic mayoral primary. 

According to his campaign schedule, Thompson will be at City Hall in Manhattan at 11 a.m. to "make remarks on his 2013 Mayoral race." Representatives for his campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TPM.

Thompson came in second behind de Blasio in the primary Sept. 10. Based on initial results, de Blasio was slightly above the 40 percent of the vote he needed to avoid a runoff with Thompson according to New York City law. Thompson and his campaign initially vowed to wait until paper ballots were counted by the Board of Elections that could have resulted in de Blasio being below the threshold. The Board of Elections had been set to begin counting those ballots Monday. 

Multiple Thompson endorsers including Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and several local officials announced their intention to back de Blasio in a press release sent Monday morning. 

Staffers at State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. held their own private ceremony Wednesday to commemorate the first anniversary of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya after finding out the agency would not be organizing a formal, official memorial service.

The Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attack left four people dead, including the American Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and Sean Smith, an information management officer in the department's foreign service.

A State Department staffer who worked with Stevens in Libya and asked not to be named told TPM there were about 20 to 25 staffers at the memorial. The informal gathering was put together after staffers inquired and learned the department would not be holding an official event to mark the anniversary.

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The official said Obama would be joined "on-stage and in the audience by people that have benefited from his economic recovery proposals over the last five years including small business owners, construction workers, homeowners, consumers and tax cut recipients."

Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and Bank of America purchased Merrill Lynch on September 15, 2008. On September 16 of that year, the Federal Reserve authorized a bailout loan of up to $85 million to the insurance company AIG.  

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