Terrorist Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez pulled up to a military facility and opened fire on unarmed veterans. These trained men who served tours of duty had no way to protect themselves. Military personnel are not permitted to carry firearms on base.
Abdulazeez had no problem pulling up to a Tennessee military facility in a rented silver Mustang convertible, wearing a vest with extra ammunition, wielding at least two long guns, either rifles or shotguns, and a handgun, and murdering unarmed veterans.
Within minutes, four Marines lay dead. A sailor who was seriously injured died Saturday.
Who can we thank for disarming our Marines: George H. W. Bush Administration, on January 20, 1989.
Bill Clinton modified the DODD Mar 12, 1993, effective date: 12 April 1993
Department of Defense Directive can be seen here.
The image of Abdulazeez described by investigators doesn’t match with the seemingly pedestrian suburban man described by neighbors and classmates: A clean-cut wrestler, the brother of a tennis player, the son of parents who drove no-frills cars. A man who played with the neighborhood kids growing up, gave a lift to a neighbor who became stranded in a snowstorm.
Just days before the shootings, Abdulazeez was seen dribbling a soccer ball in his yard, and he told two longtime friends he was excited and upbeat about his new job at a company that designs and makes wire and cable products.
Abdulazeez did not appear to have been on federal authorities’ radar before the bloodshed Thursday, officials said. But now counterterrorism investigators are taking a deep look at his online activities and foreign travel, searching for clues to his political contacts or influences.
“It would be premature to speculate on exactly why the shooter did what he did,” FBI agent Ed Reinhold said. “However, we are conducting a thorough investigation to determine whether this person acted alone or was inspired or directed.”
Abdulazeez graduated from Red Bank High School in Chattanooga, where he was on the wrestling team. A fellow Red Bank High graduate, Hussnain Javid, said Abdulazeez was “very outgoing.”
Abdulazeez got an engineering degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2012 and worked as an intern a few years ago at the Tennessee Valley Authority, the federally owned utility that operates power plants and dams across the South.
Later Friday, a federal official who had been briefed on the matter told The Associated Press that Abdulazeez was dismissed because he failed a drug test. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing law enforcement investigation.
For the past three months, Abdulazeez had been working at Superior Essex Inc., which designs and makes wire and cable products.
In April, he was arrested on a drunken driving charge, and a mugshot showed him with a bushy beard.
The official Kuwait News Agency on Friday quoted the Interior Ministry as saying that while Abdulazeez was born in Kuwait, he was of Jordanian origin.
A U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity said that Abdulazeez was in Jordan last year for months, and that those travels and anyone he met with are being looked at as part of the terrorism investigation.
In recent months, U.S. counterterrorism authorities have been warning of the danger of attacks by individuals inspired but not necessarily directed by the Islamic State group. Officials have said they have disrupted several such lone-wolf plots.
But the FBI’s Reinhold said Friday that so far, there is “no indication he was inspired by or directed by” ISIS or other groups.
The gunman on Thursday sprayed gunfire at a military recruiting center at a strip mall, then shot up a Navy-Marine training center a few miles away. Some of the weapons were bought legally, some may not have been, Reinhold said.
The dead Marines were identified as Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan of Hampden, Massachusetts; Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt of Burke, North Carolina; Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist of Polk, Wisconsin; and Lance Cpl. Squire K. “Skip” Wells of Cobb County, Georgia. Sullivan, Wyatt and Holmquist had served in Iraq, Afghanistan or both.
An unidentified sailor seriously wounded in the attack remained hospitalized.
On Friday, Gwen Gott added purple ribbons and a flag to a makeshift memorial taking shape outside the recruiting station.
“I love the service. Without them, where would we be as a country?” Gott said.
U.S. sailor Randall Smith was seriously injured in the Chattanooga, Tenn., shooting attack that killed four Marines on Thursday, July 16, 2015. The Navy announced Saturday, July 18, 2015, that Smith has died.
US Marine Lance Cpl. Skip Wells, in his military portrait, and with his mother, Cathy Wells, in a photo taken last week at Disney World, where Skip was honored as a service member of the day. (Courtesy: Cathy Wells)
Sgt. Carson Holmquist, of Grantsburg Wisc.,(l.), and Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, of Chattanooga, (r.), were gunned down Thursday.
Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan
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