Yet another deadly shooting took place on U.S. soil, following attacks at a theater in Aurora, Colo. and a school in Newtown, Conn. This time it occurred at a military facility designed to serve as a fortress against assaults.
The Pentagon announced Tuesday that it would review the security at every U.S. military installation worldwide, following a deadly rampage at the Navy Yard, to include those who have access to them.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is exercising his due diligence in response to the high-profile attack that led to 12 shooting deaths, experts say, similarly to how the FBI is likely delving through every facet of the life of Aaron Alexis, the shooter who was killed at the scene, to determine his motive.
But a new kind of thinking is required to prevent another attack from happening, according to these experts.
"We need to address and identify what the real problem is," says Paul Fennewald, a former FBI investigator and homeland security expert. "How do we connect the dots? How do we identify ways to intervene when we have individuals who are on this fringe of mental health wellness?"
A senior Defense official said Tuesday that the secretary would "order a review of physical security and access at all DoD installations worldwide." Hagel received reports from senior leaders on Tuesday to define the parameters of this review, the official said, which will likely be announced this week.
Fennewald warns against looking for "simplistic solutions to complicated problems."
"The insider threat is always going to be there," he says.
Those who are intent on killing will do so with or without guns or other restricted weapons, says Fennewald, who now also serves as an advisor for safety in schools. The solution, then, to anticipating these kinds of attacks is for Americans to change the way they think.
"Almost all bad acts are preceded by bad body language. Recognizing indicators of violence is one thing, being able to prevent it is another," says Vaughn Baker, a veteran SWAT officer.
Alexis, according to initial reports, obtained a security clearance and had authorized access to the Navy Yard because his background check did not unearth previous disturbing behavior.
Part of this is due to gaps between law enforcement databases, as well as restrictions on sharing information about mental health problems, says Baker.
"It's a real challenge, because we have to balance the privacy issues with healthcare and mental health," says Baker, co-founder of Strategos International, which trains organization in preventing attacks like the one at the Navy Yard.
"Information sharing is both technologically challenged, as far as sharing information between agencies," he says. "But the other issue, when you're coming up on the terrorism side, is getting agencies to share with each other, because of turf issues."
The infrastructure does not yet exist for local law enforcement in Fort Worth, Texas -- where police had questioned Alexis for gun-related incidents -- to be able to communicate that information with a federal agency that would sign off on a security clearance.
Adding to the confusion is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 which restricts sharing information on a patient's mental health records.
Data this widespread is also subject to human error, or nuances such as a crime in which the suspect was not found guilty or that was not prosecuted, such as when Alexis claimed he discharged a weapon in his home by accident.
For these reasons, Fennewald points to a FBI report entitled "The School Shooter: A Threat Assessment Perspective" for the answer, which starts with the co-worker or the classmate.
"How do we create a culture and a climate where it's OK, if someone is having a problem, to get them help, and not stigmatize them?" he says. "[There is] value of trust relationships, that you have a healthy environment in that workplace."
Workplaces must have a clear-cut avenue for employees to report disturbing behavior among their colleagues, he says. It is also important, Fennewald adds, particularly in sensitive areas with security clearances, for managers or human resources directors not to overreact upon hearing these reports.
"Almost all of these incidents have some sort of behavior precursors that would indicate warning signs," says Baker. "[Mental health] is starting to look like a big player in this, and that's where you start to see the risks elevate."
It requires the courage to act when hearing a co-worker say something disturbing, he says, and to share that with someone with the authority to help.
The solution does not lie within law enforcement officials, mental health professionals or workplace management, says Fennewald, but rather through the holistic responsibility of them all.