Four Marines were killed Thursday morning during shootings at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Three people were wounded, including a police officer and a Marine Corps recruiter. The shooter, identified as 24-year-old Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, is also dead. Abdulazeez was born in Kuwait, but grew up in the Chattanooga area and was a naturalized American citizen.
The four Marines killed have been officially identified: Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan, Sergeant Carson Holmquist, Lance Corporal Skip Wells, and Staff Sergeant David Wyatt.
The attack began around 10:45 a.m. at a military recruiting center in a strip mall, where Abdulazeez fired 25 to 30 rounds from his car. In a press conference on Friday, the FBI said that the shooter had carried a handgun and at least two long guns. Only some of the purchases had been legal. Adulazeez wore a vest to carry ammunition.
One Marine was wounded, and witnesses said they saw a man fleeing in a silver Ford Mustang. He then headed to a Navy Reserve center seven miles away and rammed his car through a security gate. Officials said Abdulazeez opened fire around 11:30 a.m., using multiple weapons and reloading. All of the fatalities occurred at the second site, and a police officer and a sailor were injured.
Abdulazeez died nearby after a gunfight with police officers. As the firefight took place, officers moved a colleague, who had been shot in the ankle, to safety. Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher called the officers’ actions a “breathtaking example of every day courage.”
An autopsy will be performed on Abdulazeez this weekend. According to the New York Times, counterterrorism officials said Abdulazeez hadn’t been on their radar, but his father was investigated years ago for giving money to an organization possibly linked to terrorism. The father was put on a terrorist watch list and questioned while traveling, but later he was removed from the list.
The FBI is currently investigating recent trips Abdulazeez took to the Middle East. He visited Jordan for about seven months last year, and previously went to Kuwait and Jordan.
ISIS recently called for attacks during Ramadan, and Thursday was the last day of the Muslim holy month. Federal investigators are trying to determine Abdulazeez’s motive and whether he had any help, but they said so far they don’t have “anything that directly ties” him to international terror organizations. The FBI is leading the national security investigation, and U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said, “We are treating this as an act of domestic terrorism.”
President Obama said it appears the attacks were carried out by a “lone gunman,” but he did not use the word terrorism and stressed that “we don’t know yet all the details.” “My main message right now is, obviously, the deepest sympathies of the American people to the four Marines that have been killed,” he said. “It is a heartbreaking circumstance for these individuals, who have served our country with great valor, to be killed in this fashion.”
This post has been updated throughout.