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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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September 19th, 2013
04:54 PM ET

Family that had terrifying encounter with Navy Yard killer: It could have been us

An Alabama family are thankful they survived a terrifying encounter with the man they believe went on to kill 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard in a shooting rampage.

Glynda Boyd and her family were at the Norfolk, Virginia, airport waiting to board a flight back to Birmingham, when a man they believe was the eventual Navy Yard killer, Aaron Alexis, approached them.

"He wanted to know if this lady was laughing at him," said Boyd, who explained to the stranger that her 75-year-old aunt was just laughing at some family joke.

He stood over the family for a moment and then went away. He returned minutes later demanding to know why the woman was laughing, accusing her of continually looking at him.

"I said, 'She's just laughing, you know, she doesn't even see you,'" said Boyd.

The man wasn't satisfied and became "belligerent," started cursing them, and began reaching into his waistband as though he were reaching for a weapon, said Boyd.

Reports of Alexis's mental instability, including hearing voices, black-out rages, and instances of paranoia, have emerged since he gunned down 12 people on Monday before being killed by police.

When images of Alexis began appearing on television, the Boyds said they knew instantly that he was the man that had terrified them at the airport. They first told their story to FoxNews.com.

As the man they believe to be Alexis became more agitated, Boyd's brother, Michael, stepped in and repeated that his aunt was not laughing at him, and told him to sit down.

"He just started saying all kinds of curse words, and just went off on us," said Michael Boyd, who then told the attendant boarding the flight to call security.

Moments later, security came and calmed the man down.

Security told him "if he was to approach us again, that they wouldn't allow him to fly," said Glynda Boyd. From that point on, the man stayed in his gate area and never came back.

But, Michael Boyd, said he continued to stare strangely at their family.

Just a few days later, Alexis was in Rhode Island, having traveled there from Virginia.

He called police to his hotel, saying he had gotten into a verbal altercation with a man during his flight and believed the man had sent three people to talk to him to keep him awake, and send vibrations through his body, according to the police report.

The Boyds believe Alexis was talking about their family.

"I thought it was over, it happened, we moved on. But to think that it really affected him like that ... that was really striking to me. And to know that we were still on his mind, you know, in such a way is amazing," said Glynda Boyd.

Watching news of Alexis's shooting rampage unfold on television news, the Boyds said they were shocked, freaked out, and grateful to have escaped their encounter with him unscathed.

"I just feel like we were so fortunate, fortunate and blessed," said Glynda Boyd.

"To make it through that," said Michael Boyd, finishing her sentence, and nodding his head in agreement.

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