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President Obama Urges Prayers as Chattanooga Shooter Identified; FBI Treating Incident as 'Domestic Terrorist Attack'

( [email protected] ) Jul 16, 2015 05:38 PM EDT
The gunman who opened fire at two military facilities in Chattanooga, TN, killing at least four Marines and wounding a soldier and a police officer, has been identified as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, a U.S. official has confirmed.
Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez’s mug shot from an April 2015 arrest for driving under the influence. (Hamilton County Jail via Chattanoogan.com)

The gunman who opened fire at two military facilities in Chattanooga, TN, killing four Marines and wounding a soldier and a police officer has been identified as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, a U.S. official has confirmed.

Abdulazeez, who was killed, is believed to have been born in Kuwait, but was living in Hixson, Tennessee at the time of the incident, CBS News reported.  He reportedly graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2012 with a degree in engineering, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

On Thursday evening, President Obama issued a statement regarding the shootings, stating, "My main message right now is to offer my deepest sympathies to the American people and to the families of the four marines that have been killed," he said. "I ask all Americans to pray for the families, who are grief stricken at this point. I want everyone to understand we will be thorough and prompt in figuring out what happened." 

Witnesses told police that on Thursday morning, Abdulazeez went into the parking lot of a U.S. military recruitment center on Amnicola Highway, but then sped away in a silver convertible to Bradley County, where another recruiting center is located at a mall.

Marilyn Hutcheson, who works across the street from the U.S. Naval Reserve building on Amnicola Highway, says she heard a barrage of gunfire.

"I couldn't even begin to tell you how many," she said. "It was rapid fire, like pow pow pow pow pow, so quickly. The next thing I knew, there were police cars coming from every direction. We're apprehensive. Not knowing what transpired, if it was a grievance or terroristic related, we just don't know.

While police have not yet released a motive for why the gunman targeted the two military facilities and military personnel, the case is being investigated as possible "domestic terrorism" and the FBI is leading the probe.

Additionally, according to JihadWatch.org,  an ISIS-related account tweeted "O American dogs soon YOU will see the wonders," and used #Chattanooga, at 10:34 a.m., around the same time police say the shooting began.

Late Thursday afternoon, law enforcement swarmed the house believed to be the home of Abdulazeez, and an AP reporter saw officers with weapons drawn at the house and two females were led away in handcuffs.

"Today was a nightmare for the city of Chattanooga," Mayor Andy Berke said. "As a city, we will respond to this with every available resource that we have."

Berke confirmed that five people died in all, including four marines and the gunman. A police officer, Dennis Pedigo, was shot in the leg but is in stable condition.

The Time Free Press reports that Erlanger's Trauma Center in Chattanooga received three shooting victims, a Chattanooga police officer and two members of the military.  One of those patients was discharged from Erlanger this afternoon; the other two are still being treated.

"Lives have been lost from some faithful people who have been serving our country, and I think I join all Tennesseans in being both sickened and saddened by this," Gov. Bill Haslam said.