AMERICA GRIEVES AS FOUR U.S. MARINES AND A NAVY SAILOR LOST THEIR LIVES IN CHATANOOGA, TN BECAUSE OF A VICIOUS TERROR ATTACK BY MUHAMMAD YOUSSEF ABDULAZEEZ…
America’s heroes are from left to right:
Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan of Hampden, MA, 40
Lance Cpl. Squire “Skip” K. Wells of Cobb, GA, 21
Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist of Polk County, WI, 27
Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt of Burke, NC, 37
I was all set to post this on my Blog this afternoon, but then I heard about Randall Smith and wanted to include him here as well. This is a long post and it took me awhile to compose it, but it is my heartfelt thank you to the five heroic and beautiful souls who were taken from us so tragically. I hope you’ll read this post in its entirety and keep these five brave warriors, their loving families and their community in your prayers. I came across a few eye-openers on this story of the horrific terrorist attack that first started at a military recruitment station and then at a Navy and Marines Reserve Center seven miles away in Chattanooga, TN. More on this story follows my post. Thank you…
While on a walk this morning to gather more thoughts for this post, I watched as another of our veterans was laid to rest in a cemetery that I sometimes walk in. They had the customary Three-Volley Salute for another of America’s heroes that I’ve seen and heard so many times before. I don’t know anything about this veteran, but as I always do, I’ll go to the grave of the veteran at a more appropriate time and pray over his or her grave. It helps me to cope with a hero’s passing, and allows me to privately say “Thank you for your service to this great nation. Rest in peace”. Whether they pass because of natural causes or by vicious attack, they will never be forgotten.
I cried along with the rest of America when I first heard about the four U.S. Marines who are no longer with us. They are no longer with their families and friends because of the cowardly actions of a rogue Muslim extremist terrorist, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who was killed by police at the Armed Forces Recruitment Center after first firing at a military recruiting storefront several miles away. Several others were wounded at the second military recruitment center, including a Navy Sailor and veteran Chattanooga police officer, Sgt. Dennis Pedigo, who was wounded in the ankle and underwent surgery. Thank God he’s recovering.
Many people are wondering what possessed this “friendly” Muslim to “turn” and attack a couple of military installations and open fire on innocent, unarmed marines and others?
Three days before Abdulazeez opened fire, local Muslims held a protest defending their religion in Chattanooga during Ramadan, if you can believe that. They targeted Chattanooga because the FBI caught some guy, Robert Doggart, from there who was planning an attack on a mosque in upstate New York. Did the Muslims in this community coerce this coward to target military installations or did the coercion come from his father, Youssuf Saed Abdulazeez, who was on the terrorist watch list, then later removed? I wonder who took him off of that terrorist watch list, and will we ever find out who did? I won’t hold my breath.
Here’s some background information into Abdulazeez and his vicious father, Youssuf Saed Abdulazeez, who had a restraining order put on him from his wife filed back on February 5, 2009 because of sexual assaulting and viciously beating her, and also beating their son. Youssuf told his wife of 28 years that he wanted to take a second wife “because it’s allowed under Islamic Law”, but they’re in America where American Law exists, not Palestine or Kuwait (where Abdulazeez was born). There are more horror stories about how Muslim guys who come into this country either by legal or illegal means who show this same violent behavior toward women. Now there’s your “war on women”, Liberals and Progressives. With Obama taking in 100,000 or more Muslims into the United States every year, we can expect more of this, and it will spill out into our population, not just in their own circle, I assure you.
Obama could stop this or at least reduce this carnage on military installations by Islamic terrorists by repealing a law I believe Bill Clinton signed which disarmed U.S. soldiers on military bases. It was one of the first things he did when he took office in 1993. In March of the same year, the Army imposed regulations forbidding military personnel from carrying their personal firearms and making it almost impossible for commanders to issue firearms to soldiers in the U.S. for personal protection. However, according to a story from TheBlaze on September 17, 2013, it was George H. W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense who put that law into place, not Bill Clinton. I still believe Bill Clinton had his hands in it because of what I’ve uncovered, just as he reduced military spending which resulted in the USS Cole terrorist attack, then boasted of a “surplus”. Actually, I don’t care who was at fault! The fact that this law hasn’t been repealed after countless shootings and fatalities at various military installations is an atrocity. This law should be repealed, but I don’t see it happening because any laws that need to be repealed are put into the proverbial circular file by our politicians—think ObamaCare.
Nadal Hasan’s terrorist attack (remember him?) at Fort Hood wouldn’t have happened or at the very least, the damage would have been minimal in comparison, if Clinton’s (or H. W. Bush’s) law wasn’t in place. Our military personnel would have been armed. Terrorists and other radicals know that they won’t be fired upon in gun-free zones which is why it’s happening more often in those places.
May God rest the souls of the four Marines and Navy Sailor who lost their lives, and May He bring comfort to their families. America grieves with them. Here’s another Muslim extremist who America educated, yet this pig wasn’t as grateful and “loving” as some people thought. Whoever persuaded him to act out this massacre on innocent people, he could have gone to the authorities or he could have said NO to the violent acts! What or who makes these seemingly “good” people turn away from good and incite evil onto innocent people for no reason at all?
To our Military Men and Women who are serving in our Armed Forces: We pray that God protects all of you as you protect us so selflessly. We pray that you are always surrounded by God’s Light so you can see the evil before it sees you. May you all safely return home to your families soon. We thank you all for your brave service to God’s beautiful country. May your families be blessed and comforted as they await your safe return home.
At the end of this post, I’ve included a couple of related stories.
In Love and Light…
For videos on this story, please go to where this story originated: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3165270/Purple-Heart-recipient-served-Iraq-identified-one-four-Marines-shot-dead-Chattanooga-shooting-gunman-Muhammad-Abdulazeez.html
‘I love you’: Girlfriend shares tragic last texts with boyfriend killed in Chattanooga as the bodies of the four slain Marines are taken in a procession to Dover, Delaware
- Caroline Dove says her boyfriend Lance Cpl Skip Wells, 21, sent her a text message on Thursday, reading: ‘ACTIVE SHOOTER’
- She thought the text message was a joke until her mother sent her an article about the rampage
- Dove’s boyfriend was killed in the shooting, in addition to three fellow Marines: Thomas J Sullivan, 40; Sgt Carson Holmquist, 27; and Staff Sgt David Wyatt, 37
- Gunman Muhammah Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, was killed after police intervened and shot him dead
- Sullivan, from Springfield, Massachusetts, served two tours of duty in Iraq and was awarded the Purple Heart
- Wells, from Marietta, Georgia, had just graduated from boot camp last year
- Holmquist and Wyatt both leave behind widows and young children
- Abdulazeez was a naturalized U.S. citizen, originally from Kuwait, and a college graduate with an engineering degree
- The Muslim published two blog posts on Monday, saying life is ‘a test’ and is ‘short and bitter’
- He also traveled to Jordan – and possible Yemen – for seven-months last year
The girlfriend of one of the four Marines gunned down in a shooting at a Naval Reserve base in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Thursday has revealed the tragic last text message she received from her boyfriend in the midst of the rampage.
Caroline Dove, girlfriend of slain Lance Cpl Skip Wells, 21, says he sent her a text message on the morning of the brazen attacks, saying there was an ‘active shooter’.
Dove, who lives in Savannah, Georgia, was confused at first, thinking it was a joke. But she started to get worried when her mother sent her an article saying that four Marines had been killed in a shooting in Chattanooga.
Dove says she thought the text message was a joke at first, but then grew concerned when her mother sent her an article about four Marines being killed in Chattanooga
She says she then started frantically texting Wells, saying ‘I love you’ and asking if he was there, but she never heard from him again.
Dove had to wait almost an entire day to get the news that her boyfriend of two and a half years had been lost in the tragic incident, when a mutual friend called to inform her of the bad news.
‘It was devastating to hear that he was one of the victims. I was so overwhelmed with emotions…I didnt know what to do,’ Dove said.
All four were killed at the Naval Reserve center – the second stop in gunman Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez’s shooting spree through Chattanooga.
Just minutes earlier, the Muslim who grew up in the upscale suburb of Hixson had fired dozens of rounds into the offices of a military recruitment center at a strip mall – leaving one injured.
He then drove off, heading about eight miles north to the reserve center where he continued his bloody rampage.
The shooting was finally brought to an end when police officers intervened. Abdulazeez reportedly rammed the sports car into a gate and then was shot dead by a police officer.
The three other Marines slain in the massacre have been identified as 40-year-old Gunnery Sgt Thomas J Sullivan, 27-year-old Sgt Carson Holmquist and 37-year-old Staff Sgt David Wyatt.
A sailor, who is yet to be identified, is said to be ‘fighting for his life’ in hospital.
On Friday, the bodies of the four Marines were taken from Chattanooga to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware in a police procession.
‘The remains of the Marines who lost their lives in the tragic July 16 incident in Chattanooga are currently en route to Dover, Delaware,’ a spokesman from the U.S. Marines said. ‘Upon arrival, transfer cases will be draped and an honorable transfer will be conducted. No media will be authorized access to this area.’
Together, the victims comprise two young fathers, a Purple Heart recipient and a 21-year-old barely out of boot camp.
Loved-ones of those senselessly murdered, paid tribute to them today as an ‘amazing father’, a perfect Marine, and a young man who ‘felt called to serve’.
And touching photos reveal the lives behind their service. Skip Wells, the youngest victim, shared a moving photo on Facebook hugging his girlfriend and proudly posing in uniform – his baby-faced portrait a testament to his early years cut short while David Wyatt, a married father of two, is pictured in an emotional homecoming with his two children, who are proudly waving American flags for their hero dad.
The shooting that killed the four men started just before 11am on Thursday, when gunman Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez pulled up to a strip mall in Chattanooga and started shooting through the glass windows of a military recruitment office from the drivers seat of a rented silver convertible.
Abdulazeez then sped off and drove about seven miles north to a U.S. Naval Reserve Center near a Coca-Cola bottling plant and the Tennessee RiverPark, where he opened fire again at a group of servicemen through a fence.
All four of the victims killed in the shooting were shot dead at the Naval Reserve center. Just one person was shot at the military recruitment offices and was treated and released for their injuries.
The shooting was finally brought to an end when police officers intervened. Abdulazeez reportedly rammed the sports car into a gate and then was shot dead by a police officer.
In the aftermath of the shooting, it was revealed that Abdulazeez was a naturalized U.S. citizen, born in Kuwait, who moved to America with his family in 1996. His father was reportedly born in the Palestinian territories, and had a violent past according to court documents exclusively obtained by DailyMail.com.
In 2009 Abdulazeez’s mother filed for divorce from his father accusing him of shocking attacks on her and the children.
Youssuf Saed Abdulazeez was accused of physically attacking his wife of 28 years and sexually assaulting her in front of the children. He also wanted to take a second wife claiming it was permitted under Islamic law.
The couple ultimately reconciled and stayed together, but the allegations and court hearings would have no doubt put pressure on the family and their only son who was in his senior year at high school at the time.
The gunman’s father was also put on a terror watch list in the past, but ultimately cleared.
The investigation allegedly had to do with the father’s contributions to a charity and questions about whether the money was being funneled to fund terrorism.
FOUR MARINES KILLED IN THE CHATTANOOGA SHOOTING
LANCE CPL SKIP WELLS
Reservist on active duty operational support
Entered service: February 2014
From: Cobb, Georgia
Occupation: Field artillery cannoneer
Lance Cpl Skip Wells had wanted to be a Marine ever since he was a little boy, his girlfriend Caroline Dove told CNN in an eloquent interview on Friday.
Dove, who had been dating Wells for the past two and a half years, met her boyfriend while they were both studying history at Georgia State University.
‘We were both history majors and there was a connection just right off the bat. He knew what he had to do to make me happy and I knew what I had to do to make him happy and we were just compatible,’ she said. ‘It was great that we worked out for as long as we did.’
Since joining the military, Dove and Wells had been long-distance while Wells worked in Tennessee and Dove continued her education in Georgia.
She says the last time she saw her boyfriend was in February and that she had plans to visit him next week – a dream reunion that will now never happen.
Dove says that her boyfriend was proud to serve his country, and that his one ambition in life was to be remembered for service.
‘I know when we first met, he said, “You know, I’m going to be a Marine. That’s all I really want to do, that’s all I know and that’s all I love.”‘ Dove recalled.
Done says Wells spent a lot of time speaking with recruiters about the process of joining the Marines before he was officially sworn in last year – realizing his dream career.
Wells officially became a Marine on May 9, 2014, when he graduated from boot camp.
He beams proudly in pictures from the day on Facebook, embracing his girlfriend in one picture and beaming proudly next to his parents and mother (who also served in the Marines, according to friends) in another.
Dove is also an enlisted Marine, just weeks away from boot camp.
While the shooting has no doube been shaking, Dove says it has only strengthened her resolve to join the military.
‘Seeing as this has happened on our soil it has encouraged me to want this even more and I actually want to live out my life as a Marine and be able to do it for him because I know that’s what he wanted me to do.
‘He as truly honest, he was smart, he was loyal – just anything you could imagine in a good guy and a good Marine.
‘I’m gonna miss his funny little quirks…he always knew how to make me laugh, how to make me smile, how to make me feel better about anything,’ Dove said.
Garrett Reed, a longtime friend of Wells who has known him since the fourth grade, believes he wanted to join the military because of his family’s legacy of service.
‘He loves his country, his momma served in the military…I think he just wanted to follow in her footsteps,’ Reed said.
According to pictures posted to Facebook, he had recently returned from a trip to DisneyWorld with his mother.
Reed said he was shocked when he learned that his childhood friend had been killed in the terror attack on Thursday
‘You hear about this kind of stuff on the news all the time and you just never think it can happen to one of your friends,’ Reed said.
In describing Wells’ personality, Reed said: ‘He was just a funny guy, real caring. Just a really nice guy, you just couldn’t find a nicer guy than him.’
STAFF SGT DAVID WYATT
From: Burke, North Carolina
Entered service: September 2004
Occupation: Field artillery operations man
Deployments: Afghanistan (October 2010 to May 2011), Iraq (October 2007 to January 2008)
Staff Sgt David Wyatt lived with his wife and two kids in Hixson, Tennessee – the same Chattanooga suburb where Abdulazeez grew up with his family.
As FBI agents swarmed the gunman’s home on Thursday, mourners began to arrive at Wyatt’s home just six miles down the road.
‘There were seven or eight cars there last night. I thought they were having a party. It didn’t go through my mind,’ neighbor Antony Madakcherry told the Tennessean.
Wyatt, originally from Russellville, Arkansas attended university in Montana before joining the military.
He married his wife Lorri in December 2004, and the couple went on to have two children – a boy and a girl according to photos posted on Mrs Wyatt’s Facebook.
As friends and family wrote their condolences on Facebook Thursday night, Lorri responded and thanked everyone for their support, writing that her husband had been ‘an amazing father’.
On Friday, a Hamilton County Sheriff’s Deputy was stationed outside of the family’s home.
GUNNERY SGT THOMAS J SULLIVAN
From: Hampden, Massachusetts
Entered service: September 1997
Occupation: Field artillery cannoneer
Deployments: Iraq (September 2007 to April 2008, September 2004 to April 2005)
Sullivan, from Springfield, Massachusetts served two tours of duty in Iraq, survived the battle of Abu Ghraib and was awarded the Purple Heart, his family told MassLive.
Sullivan’s brother Joe is a pub owner in their hometown, and wrote a post on the bar’s website in honor of his fallen sibling after hearing the terrible news.
‘He was our hero and he will never be forgotten. Please keep his family & friends in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you Tommy for protecting us,’ the post reads.
As the family mourns Sullivan’s passing, his brother has asked residents in their community to lower their American flags to half mast.
‘There’s no Marine you would want that was better in combat than him,’ Sullivan’s friend, Josh Parnell, told Patch. ‘He’d been shot at so many times over the years and then for this to happen at home in the United States.’
A woman claiming to be a friend of Sullivan’s on Twitter shared a picture of the sergeant in his uniform next to two Purple Hearts, writing: ‘RIP GySgt Thomas Sullivan, it was an honor knowing you and knowing you’re the reason why my mom would smile.’
Sullivan was one of three children to Jerry and Betty Sullivan and graduated from Springfield’s Cathedral High School before joining the military.
SGT CARSON HOLMQUIST
From: Polk, Wisconsin.
Entered service: January 2009
Occupation: Automotive maintenance technician
Deployments: Afghanistan (September 2013 to May 2014)
Sgt Carson Holmquist, a man who just returned from a nearly year-long deployment last July, was another of the four men tragically killed in Thursday’s shooting.
The 27-year-old originally from Grantsburg, Wisconsin leaves behind a wife, Jasmine, and a 2-year-old son Wyatt.
At the time of his untimely death, Holmquist and his young family were living in Jacksonville, North Carolina where he was stationed at Camp Lejeune.
While his family has yet to issue a statement on his death, it is very clear that he was loved.
Pictured posted to Facebook show his wife and toddler son with broad smiles, welcoming him home from a deployment last July.
In the photos, mother and son wave American flags and hold up posters reading ‘Welcome home Daddy!’ and ‘We’ve waited 244 days for this moment’.
Friends also paid tribute to the fallen Marine on Facebook, posting kind words like ‘You will be missed bud’.
Authorities are still scrambling to find a motive for the attack, but blog posts written by Abdulazeez just three days before the attack suggests he may have become radicalized in his Islamic faith.
In the cryptic posts, Abdulazeez wrote: ‘Brothers and sisters don’t be fooled by your desires, this life is short and bitter and the opportunity to submit to allah may pass you by.’
According to The Daily Beast, he added: ‘Take his (Allah’s) word as your light and code and do not let other prisoners, whether they are so called “Scholars” or even your family members, divert you from the truth. If you make the intention to follow allahs way 100 per cent and put your desires to the side, allah will guide you to what is right.’
At a press conference on Friday, authorities said they were investigating the shootings as an act of terrorism, but the FBI said that Abdulazeez had not been on their radar or any of their watch lists.
A federal law enforcement official says authorities are continuing to search the computer belong to the gunman, but as of Friday morning, haven’t found an extensive online presence.
The official says they also haven’t uncovered evidence suggesting Abdulazeez was directly inspired by the Islamic State militant group. But the official says the review is continuing.
FBI investigators are also looking into a trip Abdulazeez took to Jordan, where he lived before emigrating to the U.S., last year.
Reuters and the Wall Street Journal are reporting that authorities are looking into whether he may have had contact with exremists during the seven-month stay in 2014.
There are also questions about whether Abdulazeez may have visited Yemen on this trip, a country known as a hot-bed for extremist groups like AQAP – the Arabian Penninsula affiliate of al Qaeda.
Law enforcement raided Abdulazeez’s family home in the upscale neighborhood of Hixson hours after the double shootings, just a mile away from the shot-up recruitment offices, and took two women away in handcuffs.
Neighbors in the community were shocked to hear about the young man’s arrest, saying the family was normal and friendly.
‘We’ve never had any problems like this,’ one of Abdulazeez’s neighbors told Nashville’s WKRN-TV. ‘I’d never suspect anything.’
Authorities remained at the property into the night as the FBI started a terrorist investigation in a bid to decipher the motives behind the attack, and discover whether he was inspired by ISIS.
As a result of the shooting, security was beefed up across the country at military recruitment centers and bases.
The NYPD has also increased their presence at ‘sensitive areas’ – including recruitment centers and landmarks.
The attack came on the last day of the holy Muslim festival of Ramadan, a period during which ISIS agitators asked for more lone wolf attacks.
He was a practicing Muslim, and would take breaks from training as a Mixed Martial Arts fighter to pray in his coach’s office.
Fellow worshipers had seem him in a local mosque up to a month before the attack, but it is not known if or how he may have been radicalized.
Those who prayed alongside him said he was acting normally and there was nothing to suggest he was preparing to do something so violent.
On Thursday evening, the FBI said no one else was believed to be involved and they hadn’t taken anyone into custody. They added that they were yet to find any links to international terrorist cells, but were looking into every aspect of his life.
The four casualties were believed to have been part of a reserve artillery unit and had been deployed to Iraq three times.
At least three others – including Chattanooga Police Officer Dennis Pedigo, a Marine recruiter and a Navy sailor – were also injured in the two brazen assaults. Pedigo is said to be in a stable condition.
Witnesses described how the gunman shot from the driver’s seat at the first target, leaning the gun on the side of his hire car.
A spokesman for the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, confirmed that he attended the school and graduated in 2012 with a degree in electrical engineering.
Pictures on social media have emerged of him at his graduation ceremony and celebrating with members of his family in the same year.
However, he was recently seen smirking in his mugshot when he was arrested for driving under the influence in April. He was scheduled to attend a court hearing two weeks from the shooting.
Reports suggest he was stopped on the side of he road with ‘white residue’ on his face, while his car smelled of marijuana. He claimed he had snorted caffeine and refused a blood test.
In his yearbook entry for Red Bank High School, where he was a starter for the varsity wrestling team, he wrote between two pictures of himself: ‘My name causes national security alerts. What does yours do?’
According to online profiles and a YouTube video, he became an amateur Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter when he left school.
Almir Dizdarevic, a former coach, told CNN he had traveled overseas to the Middle East in the last two years and had reportedly ‘moved home’. However, it is unknown where in the area he visited and why he was there.
Abdulazeez’s father, Youssuf Abdullazeez, was appointed as a ‘special policeman’ for Chattanooga’s Department of Public Works in March 2005, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.
He was investigated several years ago for allegedly giving money to a group associated with terrorism, the New York Times reported.
Citing unnamed law enforcement officials, the paper said the gunman’s father was at one point on a terrorist watch list and was questioned while on a trip overseas.
The paper quoted an official as cautioning that the investigation was several years old and had not generated any information on the son. The father was eventually removed from the watch list, the paper quoted the official as saying.
Neighbors in the upscale community say his family were well-respected and the daughters would often babysit for their children.
A woman who was at school with Abdulazeez said he was a quiet kid, but well-liked.
Karen Wagner told the Times Free Press: ‘He was friendly, funny, kind,’ said Kagan Wagner. ‘I never would have thought it would would be him.’
‘They were your average Chattanooga family,’ she added.
Kevin Emily, his high school wrestling coach, told CNN he was just a ‘normal’, ‘humble’ student who would sometimes miss practice because he had to pray.
He described how his mother and father would come and watch his fights on a regular basis .
‘There were no red flags about anything. We had a tight bond together.’
It is not known how and where he practiced Islam in the months before the attack but, according to the Daily Beast, he ran a rambling blog with only two posts, both posted on July 13.
The first post was entitled ‘A Prison Called Dunya,’ Abdulazeez refers to prisoner who is told he would be given a test that would either take him out of his earthly prison – or send him into a more restrictive environment.
According to the website, he wrote: ‘I would imagine that any sane person would devote their time to mastering the information on the study guide and stay patient with their studies, only giving time for the other things around to keep themselves focused on passing the exam.
He added: ‘This life is that test, designed to separate the inhabitants of Paradise from the inhabitants of Hellfire.’
The second post is called ‘Understanding Islam: The Story of the Three Blind Men.’ It suggests Abdulazeez felt his fellow Muslims had a ‘certain understanding of Islam and keep a tunnel vision of what we think Islam is.’
The shooting started just before 11am on Thursday, when witnesses saw a Abdulazeez drive into a strip mall and use a high-powered shotgun to fire more than a dozen rounds at a military recruitment office from his silver convertible Ford Mustang.
The shooter then fled the scene and drove to a U.S. Naval Reserve center where he opened fire again.
He was then gunned down in a hail of bullets after a short chase away from the scene. Reports suggest he held police at bay as he used 30-clip rounds from his automatic weapon.
Witnesses described seeing a police car riddled with bullets being towed away from the scene of the standoff.
President Obama was briefed on the incident and immediately opened an investigation to be led by the FBI. The head of the government agency, James Comey, was said to have been inside the Oval Office when the president was informed of what happened.
Obama also urged the Department of Defense officials at bases around the country to remain ‘vigilant’ in the wake of the attack. This led to the beefing up of security in cities across the country.
In a short statement, he said: ‘It is a heartbreaking circumstance for these individuals that served our country with great valor to be killed in this fashion.’
He added that the thoughts of the American people are with the families of those who had been killed or injured.
Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy said he would be opening an investigation into what happened, but insisted the families of the victims were the priority.
In a statement he said: ‘Though we can never fully prevent attacks like this, we will continue to investigate, review and guard against future vulnerabilities and do everything in our power to safeguard the security of our service members and their families.
‘While we expect our sailors and Marines to go into harm’s way, and they do so without hesitation, an attack at home, in our community, is insidious and unfathomable. As the investigation unfolds, our priority will be to take care of the families of those affected.
Mabus also expressed his gratitude to the first responders who first went to the scene. He said their ‘prompt reaction was critical to stopping this individual from inflicting further violence.’
On Thursday Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said: ‘It is with a heavy heart that I learned of today’s tragic events in Chattanooga.
‘My thoughts and prayers – along with those of the men and women of the Department of Defense – are with the families of those killed in this senseless act of violence and with all those touched by this tragedy, including our Navy and Marine Corps family.
‘I am grateful to local law enforcement for their swift response. The department will continue to work with local law enforcement as they investigate this heinous crime and will support our military families in their time of grief.’
Republican presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal released a strong statement, insisting the latest attack his proof that America is at war with everyday radical Islam.
He said: ‘This apparent act of terrorism has taken the lives of four American heroes, and our hearts and prayers are with their families. While it’s too early to know for sure what happened, it certainly looks like an act of terrorism.
‘We must pursue justice on their behalf and stop at nothing to hunt down and kill these evildoers abroad before more of them come here to kill our people.
‘This shooting underscores the grave reality of the threat posed to us by Radical Islamic terrorism every single day. It’s time for the White House to wake up and tell the truth…and the truth is that Radical Islam is at war with us, and we must start by being honest about that.
‘There have been many bad things that have happened under President Obama. One that stands out to me was the horrible shooting at Ft. Hood…which was clearly an act of terrorism by a Radical Islamist. Yet the White House labeled that horrible act as ‘workplace violence.’
‘This is grotesque. You cannot defeat evil until you admit that it exists.’
The Islamic community also came out to condemn the attack as ‘cowardly’.
On Thursday, Bassam Issa, the President of the Islamic Society in Chattanooga, said: ‘We are tremendously saddened by today’s shooting in hour home town of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Our hearts are with the families of the brave Marines who died today and with the police officer and two bystanders who were shot and injured in this cowardly act.
‘We condemn this act in the strongest possible terms as one of corwadice and hate. At the Islamic Center of Greater Chattannoga, we don’t see our community center as a ‘Muslim’ community; we are Chattanoogans first, and we see ourselves as part of the larger community of Tennesseans grieving today’s act.
‘The leadership of the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga is currently meeting with law enforcement agencies and other members of the Chattanooga community in regards to this tragedy and will issue additional comments to the media this evening.’
Three days before Abdulazeez opened fire, local Muslims held a protest defending their religion in the Tennessee city.
They targeted Chattanooga because the FBI caught a man, called Robert Doggart, from there who was planning an attack on a Mosque in upstate New York.
He was indicted by a Tennessee grand jury on Tuesday for his involvement in the plot.
The shooting comes at a time of heightened security following terror warnings issued ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.
New York Police Department Deputy Commissioner Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller released a statement saying there would be an increased police presence in ‘sensitive areas’, including recruiting stations and landmarks.
‘The NYPD has deployed an increased number of Critical Response Vehicles (CRV) to provide additional coverage at military recruiting stations and other sensitive locations in the City of New York.
‘While we have no specific information about any plot against the city, until we learn more about the attack we have placed additional officers in key locations.’
‘We have been in regular contact with Tennessee authorities, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the intelligence community.
News of the shooting broke around 11:30am when Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke tweeted: ‘Horrific incident in our community. We will release details as they are confirmed. Prayers to all those affected’.
At an afternoon press conference, officials remained tight-lipped about details of the shooting, but said that it was being investigated as an ‘act of domestic terrorism’.
They wouldn’t divulge what kind of weapons the shooter was using, but did confirm that he had multiple weapons on his person.
The investigation is being coordinated by the FBI, since crimes on military centers are under federal jurisdiction.
Eyewitness, Gina Mule, who works near to the recruitment center said she saw the gunman fire at the offices.
Speaking to CNN, Mule said she was eating in a restaurant when a man ‘with a high-powered rifle’ began firing around 10:50am.
April Grimmett shared a picture of the bullet-ridden frontage of the recruitment center after hearing rapid gunfire coming from the vicinity.
‘Shortly after that we heard the shot. It was very loud and very fast,’ she said.
Grimmett added that the shooter appeared to be talking on the phone during the attack.
‘I could not believe how many bullet holes were in that door. It was insane.’
One other witness, Erica Wright, told CNN that she was working in a hair salon near the center and saw and heard the gunman.
‘We heard one pop, one really loud pop. We went to the door and there was several other pops after that and we looked two doors down and we saw a guy in a silver mustang unloading on the recruiter’s office,’ she said.
Wright added that he reloaded once or twice.
An unidentified man who was in the parking lot of the strip mall told WTVC about the terrifying situation that unfolded in front of him.
‘He just pulled up. I didn’t think anything of it. … He lifted up his arms with a big black gun. It was one shot then it was endless shots, one after another, just unloading.’
Marilyn Hutcheson was with her friend taking a break when she told CNN that she heard ‘7 to 15 shots’.
‘There was a barrage of fire once the police officers and everyone got here,’ she said. ‘They came across and put all of the buildings on lockdown. There was a lot of gunfire going on for quite a while.’
The shooting at the Amnicola Highway reserve center led Chattanooga State Community College, Lee University and a nearby mall to go into lock down.