A tragic ending for the whole nation yesterday.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Evidence shows Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez was killed by Chattanooga, Tennessee, police officers after he attacked a military recruiting office and a Naval reserve station, said Ed Reinhold, FBI special agent in charge of the eastern Tennessee office.
“All indications are he was killed by fire from the Chattanooga police officers,” Reinhold told reporters Friday. “We have no evidence he was killed by self-inflicted wounds.”
Abdulazeez, 24, had two long guns and one handgun, Reinhold said, adding that “some of the weapons were purchased legally and some of the may not have been.”
The area resident was not wearing body armor but was clad in a “load-bearing vest” that allowed him to carry extra ammunition, Reinhold said.
Abdulazeez attacked a military recruiting station in a shopping plaza and a Naval reserve office seven miles away on Thursday, killing four Marines and wounding a Chattanooga police officer, a Marine recruiter and a Navy sailor.
The Pentagon says there are no recruiting or applicant records that exist for Abdulazeez. Maj. Ben Sakrisson says local recruiters in Chattanooga have “no memory of interacting with him.”
U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said the killings are being investigated as an “act of domestic terrorism,” but he noted the incident has not yet been classified as terrorism.
Slain Marines identified
Chattanooga police Officer Dennis Pedigo and an unidentified Marine recruiter were shot in the leg during the attack. A Navy sailor was shot in the liver, colon and stomach, according to his grandmother Linda Wallace.
“He made it through the night, which wasn’t expected, but he is a fighter,” she said of her wounded grandson, Randall Smith. “We are praying so hard for a recovery.”
The military released the names of the four slain Marines.
Massachusetts officials, including Gov. Charlie Baker, said that Springfield native Sullivan is among them. Squire “Skip” Wells, a 2012 graduate of Sprayberry High School outside Atlanta, was killed.
So, too, was David Wyatt, his wife, Lorri, said on Facebook. She posted a picture of her husband and their children, and she thanked people for their prayers.
Carson Holmquist is the other slain Marine. He was a Grantsburg, Wisconsin, native who had moved to Jacksonville, North Carolina, according to a Facebook post.
What was the security situation?
While no one saw this carnage coming, authorities are painfully aware that such threats do exist. Terrorists around the world have unleashed venom, and sometimes attacks, on U.S. troops, citizens and the government. The United States has responded with force, going after groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda.
Much of that back-and-forth has happened overseas, including attacks on places like Iraq and Afghanistan. But the home front hasn’t been completely safe, in particular military installations.
The bloodiest cases were the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and then-Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s 2009 massacre at the Fort Hood, Texas, base that left 13 dead and 32 injured.
There have been other attacks on military recruiting centers. A bomb exploded in front a recruiting center in New York’s Time Square in 2008 and, the next year, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad killed one soldier and wounded another at a military recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2011.
While there’s been no indication Abdulazeez was part of a terrorist network, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said authorities are stepping up security at “certain federal facilities, out of an abundance of caution.”
“We take all shootings very seriously,” President Barack Obama said. “Obviously when you have an attack on a U.S. military facility, then we have to make sure that we have all the information necessary to make an assessment in terms of how this attack took place and what further precautions we can take in the future.”
Residents of Chattanooga are on guard and in shock.
While Gov. Bill Haslam admits “this is a great city whose heart is broken right now,” he says residents are finding strength in one another.
“People are already coming together,” he said Friday. “(They are) doing … one of the things Tennesseans do best, which is (asking), ‘How can we help? What can we do to make a difference?’ “
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