NEW YORK — The mother of the man who police say fatally shot 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard expressed sorrow Wednesday for what her son had done, adding that her "heart is broken."
Cathleen Alexis released a statement that was read to a CNN reporter who spoke with her briefly in her Brooklyn apartment. A pastor, Bishop Gerald Seabrooks, later read the statement to media gathered outside the home.
"Our son Aaron Alexis has murdered 12 people and wounded several others," Cathleen Alexis says in the statement. "His actions have had a profound and everlasting effect on the families of the victims. I don't know why he did what what he did, and I'll never be able to ask him, why. Aaron is now in a place where he can no longer do harm to anyone, and for that I am glad. To the families of the victims, I am so, so very sorry that this has happened. My heart is broken."
Authorities say Aaron Alexis, 34, walked into work Monday at the Navy Yard's Building 197 with a shotgun he assembled in a men's room and killed 12 people before being fatally shot by police.
Cathleen Alexis has been holed up in her apartment with journalists camped outside her home since the tragedy in Washington. On Wednesday, she broke her silence, agreeing to provide the brief statement.
Deborah Feyerick, a national correspondent for CNN, said Alexis choked up at times as she read her statement. Alexis declined to say when she last spoke to her son, why he may have unleashed such violence and whether she had thought her son was troubled.
Alexis told Feyerick she came home Monday after hearing about the shooting and hasn't been able to leave since. Some co-workers have reached out to the mother, but on Wednesday she remained alone in her apartment.
Seabrooks, who came to Alexis' home as a member of the Brooklyn Clergy/ NYPD Task Force, spoke to reporters outside Alexis' home after the statement was released. He said Alexis was deeply pained by her son's actions and was focusing on the loss of the victims rather than her son's death.
Seabrooks said that in his NYPD role he often visits families affected by violence. He and several others have been buying her water and food as well as comforting her.
"She's very, very sad — under a lot of stress, a lot of duress," Seabrooks said of Cathleen Alexis. "She's grieving for this tragedy, for her son as well as the victims. She's a tremendous woman who is very concerned about the other victims. She's not even mentioning her son."
Seabrooks added that Alexis didn't discuss any personal information about her son and revealed little about their relationship.
He also asked reporters outside the home to give Alexis — and her neighbors — some space. The street has been filled with news trucks and journalists since Monday.