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'Sickening' Shooting In Chattanooga, TN Leaves Five Dead, Including Four Marines and Gunman, Police Officer Wounded

( [email protected] ) Jul 16, 2015 03:17 PM EDT
The city of Chattanooga, Tennessee is left reeling after a gunmen carried out two attacks on military centers in separate parts of the city, leaving at least four Marines dead and three others, including a police officer, injured.
Bullets pierced the glass doors of the military recruiting center on Lee Highway in Chattanooga, Tennessee. April Grimmett/Twitter

The city of Chattanooga, Tennessee is left reeling after a gunmen carried out two attacks on military centers in separate parts of the city, leaving at least four Marines dead and three others, including a police officer, injured.

The attacks led to lockdowns at local hospitals as well as the Army Recruiting Center on Lee highway and the Naval and Marine Reserve Center at the Chattanooga Riverpark, where shots were fired, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

The shooter, identified as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, is dead, according to city spokeswoman Enora Moss. He was believed to have been born in Kuwait, but was living in Hixon, TN at the time of the shooting. According to the AP, Abdulazeez graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) in 2012 with an engineering degree. 

According to local station WRCB, Chattanooga police pursued the shooter from the first shooting to the location of the second shootout. Dennis Pedigo, a Chattanooga police officer who was shot, is currently in stable condition.  

In a statement on Thursday afternoon,Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam called the situation a "tragedy" and "sickening," confirming that lives were lost.

Gina Mule, a server at a restaurant, told CNN she saw a man who'd been in a silver convertible Mustang, firing a "high-powered rifle" at the recruiting offices at about 10:50 a.m.

She said she first heard "Pow, pow, pow!" She then went to a window, through which she said she saw the man firing shots.

"I don't know how many shots he fired, but it was a lot," she said.

"I just heard all the shooting," Fred Wright, a counter salesman at an auto parts store located near the U.S. Army Recruiting Office on Lee Hwy.

Wright said after the shots rang out, recruiting office personnel came running.

"All of them starting running through the brush and the briars," he said. "One of them was yelling, 'Call 911, someone's shooting at us. Three of them came in here, and we called 911," Wright said.

The Times reports that victims were rushed to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, where police officers put the hospital on lockdown so they could "actively manage the disaster."

In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, U.S. Senator Bob Corker expressed his "deep sorrow for those who have been affected and in extending our thoughts and prayers to the families."

He added, "I know some people have been tragically injured...I appreciate the outreach that has taken place at the local, state, and federal level to ensure that we're very aware of what's occurring."

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke also weighed in on the shootings and asked for continued prayers: "Horrific incident in our community," he tweeted. "We will release details as they are confirmed. Prayers to all those affected."

Local channel WRCBTV reports Chattanooga State Community College will be closed for the day out of respect for the families of the victims, and will return to a normal schedule on Friday.

The Governor's mansion was put on lockdown immediately following the shootings, and Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga remains "on precautionary lockdown" due to the shooting reports, hospital system spokeswoman Lisa McCluskey said.