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Gun seized in 2004 from Navy Yard shooting suspect later melted by Seattle police

SEATTLE — Seattle police melted down a handgun seized in a 2004 malicious-mischief case involving Aaron Alexis, the former Navy reservist who died in a gun battle with law-enforcement officers on Monday after killing 12 people during a shooting rampage at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.

The disclosure added a footnote to the 2004 case, which has raised questions because Alexis was never criminally charged.

Courtroom audio reveals that on June 4, 2004, King County prosecutors asked a judge to hold Alexis on $25,000 bail after he was arrested for allegedly shooting out two tires of a construction worker's car parked next to his home in Seattle, The Associated Press reported Thursday. Despite the bail request, King County District Court Judge Mariane Spearman released him from custody on two conditions: that he not possess guns, and that he have no contact with the construction worker.

In a brief exchange, Alexis told the judge he could agree to the conditions, which were in force for 72 hours. When Alexis appeared in court three days later, he was released and the conditions were lifted when no charges were referred by Seattle police to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, which normally handles felony charging decisions.

Seattle police released a police report Monday that said detectives referred the case to Seattle Municipal Court on June 15, 2004 — although it is the City Attorney's Office, not the court, that handles misdemeanor charging decisions.

The Seattle City Attorney's Office said Monday that it never received a police report documenting the malicious mischief and did not have the opportunity to consider charges.

Seattle police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said Friday that it remains "inconclusive" what happened. But the department reiterated Friday that its records show detectives forwarded the case.

During the course of the case, the department said, Alexis repeatedly contacted detectives, asking for the return of his gun, a .45-caliber Glock.

"Detectives did not release the firearm, as they had not received paperwork indicating Alexis' case had been declined for misdemeanor charges," the department said in a statement posted on its news website.

Whitcomb said a detective refused to release the gun because it was considered evidence, and then the weapon apparently went unclaimed.

The gun was held by the department's evidence unit until 2007, when it was melted down, the statement said.

In 2010, the full case file — containing Alexis' confession, evidence logs, witness statements and other details — was purged from Seattle police records in keeping with department procedures, the statement said.

Only the initial police report and detective notes were retained.

After his arrest in the Seattle case, Alexis told detectives he had been "disrespected," leading to a "blackout" fueled by anger, according to the 2004 police report.

If convicted, the finding would have been recorded and Alexis might have been subject to anger-management counseling. His right to own a gun would not have been affected because the case involved a misdemeanor.

Since Monday, information has emerged suggesting that Alexis, 34, had been experiencing worsening mental-health issues in the weeks and months before his still-unexplained attack, according to NBC News.

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

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