Family recounts chilling airport encounter with Navy gunman

EXCLUSIVE: An Alabama family recounted to a chilling airport encounter they had last month with the man they believe went on to gun down 12 people at a Washington military facility, and said the confrontation was triggered by the hearty laugh of a 75-year-old matriarch.

“We were just laughing and talking and he came over and said we were laughing at him,” Rosalind Baugh told, speaking of Aaron Alexis, the troubled former Navy Reservist and government contractor who went on a shooting spree in the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters in southeast Washington Monday.

Since the shooting, in which Alexis was killed by police, several reports have surfaced about his anti-social behavior, mental problems and record of arrests for gun offenses. As soon as he was identified as the shooter, Baugh and other family members present at Norfolk Airport for the Aug. 4 incident have been reliving the frightening encounter daily.


According to Rosalind Baugh, Wallis Boyd and Glynda Boyd, the incident began when Baugh laughed at an innocent joke among loved ones and the man they now believe be Aaron Alexis angrily approached the group. Things quickly escalated, with Alexis screaming profanities and motioning at his side as though he were carrying a weapon. Unable to calm the stranger down, family members called security, who spoke with Alexis in front of a terminal of terrified travelers.

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“Everyone in the airport was scared, we were all scared,” Glynda Boyd told

Three days later, Alexis told police in Newport, R.I., that he believed people he had gotten into an argument with at an airport were following him and laughing at him from another room. Newport police provided the report, along with their concerns about Alexis’ mental instability, to local Navy officials. The Navy has not commented on what steps were or were not taken.

According to the Newport police report, Alexis said “while getting onto his flight from Virginia to Rhode Island he got into an altercation with an unknown party in the airport. [He] believes that the individual that he got into an argument with has sent three people to follow him and keep him awake by talking to him and sending vibrations into his body. [He] stated that he has not witnessed any of these individuals, but believes they are two black males and a black female.”

The Boyd and Baugh family, who were traveling back home to Birmingham after a family reunion in Virginia, believe they were the "tormentors" Alexis described. They recalled in vivid detail meeting the future killer while they were waiting in front of their gate in the Southwest terminal for a 1:30 p.m. flight. Rosalind Baugh was in her wheelchair and waiting in the escort line by the gate when boarding began.

“She laughed out loud and he thought she was laughing at him,” Rosalind’s sister in law Wallis, 74, explained to

“Rosalind was tickled at something somebody said and she was laughing and well, it was pretty loud. So then he came over and he started cursing us out,” Wallis said.

“We asked him to stop cursing in front of all those people. He was saying some bad words I wouldn’t want to say. Vile words. It was awful. It was very disrespectful and it was terrible. We really had a problem when he came over.”

Glynda, Rosalind’s niece, explained how her aunt was just sitting in her chair enjoying the company of family.

“We were just waiting at our gate and my Aunt Rosalind was sitting in her wheelchair for escort service and communicating with my uncle and my brother and were just talking and Aaron Alexis walked over to our gate and he came behind us and stopped right at us and said 'Who is that lady laughing at? Is she laughing at me? Who is she laughing at?'”

“I said, 'No, no, she doesn’t even know you. She’s just laughing,'” Glynda said.

Alexis stood by the family for another minute without saying anything and then walked away. Five minutes later, the family says, he came back.

Then he asked again, “Why is this lady laughing at me? What is she laughing at?”

Glynda Boyd said she replied to the killer, “She doesn’t even see you, she is 75 years old.”

That’s when Glynda’s brother Michael told Alexis, “hey there, this is inappropriate for you to approach us like this. You need to stop. You’re out of line. Don’t come over like this.”

Then, according to the family members, Alexis started spewing vile curse words, loudly, at them.

Airport security then came over and talked to Alexis. They said “if you say anything else and approach these people again you are not going to be getting on your flight,” Glynda explained.

After that Alexis stood by a sports bar watching television with security standing around in the area watching him and continually asking the family if they were ok.

When news broke of the shooting, along with a photo of Alexis, family members say they were stunned.

“When I first saw his face it blew me away completely. It just blew me away,” Glynda said.

“We could’ve been those killed people. We could’ve been killed."

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