The Daily Grind Video

Since Monday, we’ve learned that the lone gunman in the Navy Yard massacre was a practicing Buddhist with two gun charges under his belt.

We know he was hired as a civilian contractor and gained legitimate access to the Navy Yard before the rampage. And we also know that he struggled with mental illness – just yesterday it was revealed that Aaron Alexis was hearing voices in his head and believed people were following him around with a microwave device.

But we’ve heard little from his family members about who he actually was and what made him tick – until now. His stepfather, Frank Calderon, talked to MailOnline about the horrific event that triggered something in Alexis: The September 11, 2001 attack on the U.S.

Calderon said that he and Alexis were working near the site (Alexis at the IT department in a building adjacent to the World Trade Center) when the Twin Towers fell.

Calderon said his stepson was coming up the escalator from the subway station when the first of the towers collapsed.

“He was on his way to his shift. The planes had hit the towers, but Aaron said he was on the escalator coming up from the subway station when he saw the building come down. It was right in front of him, and he said he saw it collapse. The planes had already hit the Twin Towers and he was on the subway below the building. That day was traumatic for everyone involved. He did not talk much about it, but he said he helped out. He was a strong young man so he would have done what he could.”

According to Calderon, Alexis joined first responders in desperately trying to save people trapped by the collapsing building. After witnessing the attack and seeing the mangled bodies, he couldn’t sleep for three days.

And with the 12th anniversary of the attacks just last week, family members are suggesting that the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder he suffered from are to blame for all of his gun-related incidents.

But Calderon, who hadn’t talked to his stepson since 2007, told MailOnline that despite his mental illness demons, Alexis was a loving boy.

Mr Calderon fought back tears as he said he is struggling to understand the ‘loving boy’ he raised as his own could have become a mass killer.

“What happened in Washington was not from the Aaron I knew and loved,” he said.

“Growing up he was a loving boy. He was a kind boy. There was not violence. In all the years I was with him there was no hint of any violence.”

The investigation is still active as authorities search for a motive in this tragic case.

SOURCE: Daily Mail | PHOTO CREDIT: MailOnline