Here are the stories of just some of the twelve victims who were at work at Washington's Navy Yard Monday and never made it home.
Financial Analyst Kathy Gaarde,62, was a die-hard fan of the Washington Capitols. Her daughter says she would do anything for anyone she loved.
Martin Bodrog, 54, had retired from the Navy but kept working as a civilian, designing war ships. He leaves behind a wife and three daughters.
Mary Francis Knight was an IT contractor who taught at a local community college. The 51-year-old's eldest daughter just got married two weeks ago.
Richard Michael Ridgell, 52, a private contractor, who retired from the Maryland State Police and served three years as a contract security worker in Iraq.
A 34-year-old contractor opens fire at a Washington Navy Yard Monday and kills twelve people. CNN's John Berman reports.
The chaos started just after 8 a.m., when authorities say Aaron Alexis from Fort Worth, Texas, used his military contractor I.D. to get into a building at the Washington Navy Yard, walked to an atrium and began firing.
But who is Aaron Alexis? CNN's Pamela Brown says the subcontractor entered building 197 legally with an intent to kill armed with three weapons.
Alexis was born in Queens, New York, and joined the Navy as a reservist in May 2007. According to pentagon officials, he was discharged in January 2011 following a"pattern of misconduct."
While it's unclear what that misconduct was, he did have several run-ins with the law.
Alexis was arrested in Seattle in 2004 for shooting out the tires of another man's vehicle, described in the police report as an anger-fueled "blackout." His father said his son was suffering from PTSD after helping post 9/11 rescue efforts at ground zero.
In 2008, he was cited and briefly jailed for disturbing the peace in Georgia.
And he was arrested again in 2010 for discharging a gun in public in Fort Worth, Texas, where he lived until recently. He was never charged in that case.
One of Alexis's friends in Fort Worth, Kristi Suthamtewakul, said he was locked in a financial dispute with the company that contracted him to work for the Navy .
"He did some civilian contract stuff or maybe government contract stuff in Japan for about a month and then he came back over here. I was excited because I was the one that picked him up from the airport and he's like a brother to me. After that, he just didn't feel like he was getting paid the correct amount, or just issues with that."
A motive for the massive shooting is still unknown.
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The National Cathedral is one of four DC landmarks vandalized in the past few days and so far, one person is in custody in connection with one of the crimes. However, authorities are still investigating whether that same person is responsible for the rest, and there are still a lot of unanswered questions, CNN's Pamela Brown reports.
On Monday, cleaning crews spent the night scrubbing green paint off an organ and a wall inside two National Cathedral chapels.
Police arrested Tian Jiamel and charged her with defacing property. A law enforcement source says the 58-year-old woman was found carrying a green paint can when she was arrested.
It is still unknown if the suspect is linked to the vandalism of three other DC landmarks in recent days. On Friday, authorities discovered green paint splattered on the Lincoln Memorial
Authorities then discovered what looks like green painted symbols on the statue of Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian. Adding to the mystery, green paint was discovered on a statue of Martin Luther at a DC church, a day before the National Cathedral incident.
Officials are still investigating whether the vandalisms are linked, or if these are copy cat crimes.
The United States is officially one week into the forced spending cuts today. These cuts are a result of the budget battle-ax that many predicted would lead to radical change, eventually. John Berman weighs what happened, and what didn't.
Seven days into the sequester, we have seen "no massive government budget implosion," Berman says. Although the apocalyptic message leaders seemed to send hasn't yet come to pass, changes could become apparent as soon as April. "With no congressional White House cooperation, cuts are coming. Big ones. And soon," Berman says.
In a rare social outing, the president dined with 12 GOP senators, including some of his harshest critics, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Asked by a reporter how the dinner went, McCain said "just fine" and gave a thumbs-up.
Another GOP senator, who asked not to be named because it was a private event, described it as a "very positive meeting" that focused on the debt and deficit. The senator also used the words "interactive," "respectful," and "sober" to describe the gathering, adding that it was even jovial at times.
This morning on "Early Start," CNN's Dan Lothian recaps the dinner and what it could mean for more bipartisan work going forward.
READ MORE: Haute cuisine for Obama and GOP senators
A storm that set snowfall records in Chicago arrived in Washington, D.C. early Wednesday. It filled the sky with flakes, but with temperatures well above freezing, little of the white should accumulate for long.
Just west of the nation's capital, it could dump up to 20 inches of snow but may turn into a mix of rain and snow as it nears the Atlantic Ocean, the National Weather Service said.
The federal government has closed offices for Wednesday. Emergency personnel will be expected to work as well as those equipped to work from home. D.C. schools will also be closed.
On "Early Start," this morning, CNN's Joe Johns reports from Virginia with the latest on the storm as it moves east.
READ MORE: Snow storm that plastered Chicago reaches DC
If you grab a sled in North Dakota Tuesday, you might be able to ride it through the upper Midwest all the way to the nation's capital. But it would be wiser to avoid road travel for a day or two.
A corridor of winter weather is paving its way across the Ohio Valley, dumping heavy show from Minneapolis and Chicago all the way to the District of Columbia and Baltimore, according to a National Weather Service bulletin Monday.
Blowing snow impaired motorists' visibility in North Dakota Monday, as plows cleared roads and tow trucks retrieved stranded vehicles. There were no serious injuries in accidents, police said.
This morning on "Early Start," CNN's Shannon Travis has the latest preps in Washington D.C. in advance of the snow storm.
Read More: Frosty swath brings snow from Dakota to D.C.
Every four years the inaugural parade kicks off the biggest party in town. And when the president is the center of the celebration, it means a big logistical challenge along the parade route.
Former Secret Service Agent Dan Bongino is familiar with the entire operation. Four years ago he headed up security for President Obama's first inaugural parade. Agent Bongino describes the planning behind the monumental task of securing the president, block by block.
The nation's capital is abuzz with final preparations for President Barack Obama's inauguration to a second term on Monday at noon. Hundreds of thousands are expected to turn out on Capitol Hill, the National Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue for the parade.
Athena Jones is in Washington for us this morning with the latest on the preparations and the events scheduled for Monday.
While many are looking forward to the president’s second inauguration address, countless numbers are also looking forward to discovering what the First Lady is wearing to the ceremony. One thing we do know is that Michelle Obama has a new hairstyle.