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Friday, July 17, 2015

Investigators seek motive behind Tennessee shooting rampage

Investigators seek motive behind Tennessee shooting rampage Fri, Jul 17 09:32 AM EDT image 1 of 16 By Rich McKay CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Reuters) - Investigators on Friday sought to determine what led a 24-year-old gunman to open fire at two military offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee, killing four Marines in an attack officials said could be an act of domestic terrorism. Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, identified as the shooter by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was shot to death in the rampage that also injured three people, including a sailor who was critically wounded. The attack comes at a time when U.S. military and law enforcement authorities are increasingly concerned about the threat "lone wolves" pose to domestic targets. The suspect, seen driving an open-top Ford Mustang, first went to a joint military recruiting center in a strip mall and sprayed it with gunfire, riddling the glass facade with bullet holes. "Everybody was at a standstill and as soon as he pulled away everyone scrambled, trying to make sure everyone was OK," said Erica Wright, who works two doors down from the center. The gunman then drove off to a Naval Reserve Center about 6 miles (10 km) away, fatally shooting the four Marines before being shot and killed in a firefight with police. Three others were wounded in the attacks, including a police officer reported to be in stable condition and a Marine. The shootings began around 10:45 a.m. (1445 GMT) and ended about 30 minutes later. NBC News reported that Abdulazeez was a naturalized American who was born in Kuwait. U.S. law enforcement officials said they were investigating whether he was inspired by Islamic State or a similar group. Islamic State had threatened to step up violence in the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which ends on Friday evening. The extremist group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, claimed responsibility when a gunman in Tunisia opened fire at a popular tourist hotel and killed 37 people in June. On the same day, there was an attack in France and a suicide bombing in Kuwait. At a news conference late Thursday, Edward Reinhold, special agent in charge of the FBI's Knoxville, Tennessee, division, said investigators had found nothing that tied the suspect to an international terrorist organization. Nobody else had been taken into custody, he said. The SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks extremist groups, said that Abdulazeez blogged on Monday that "life is short and bitter" and Muslims should not miss an opportunity to "submit to Allah." Reuters could not independently verify the blog postings. The New York Times, citing unnamed law enforcement officials, reported that his father had been under investigation several years ago, over possible ties to a foreign terrorist organization. His name was later removed from a terror watch list. According to a resume believed to have been posted online by Abdulazeez, he attended high school in a Chattanooga suburb and graduated from the University of Tennessee with an engineering degree. "I remember him being very creative. He was a very light-minded kind of individual. All his videos were always very unique and entertaining," said Greg Raymond, 28, who worked with Abdulazeez on a high school television program. "He was a really calm, smart and cool person who joked around. Like me, he wasn’t very popular so we always kind of got along. He seemed like a really normal guy," Raymond said. Mary Winter, president of the Colonial Shores Neighborhood Association, said she had known Abdulazeez and his family for more than 10 years and was stunned. "He never caused any trouble," she said. "We can't believe that this happened." "HEARTBREAKING CIRCUMSTANCE" President Barack Obama offered his condolences to the victims' families and said officials would be prompt and thorough in getting answers on the shootings. "It is a heartbreaking circumstance for these individuals who have served our country with great valor to be killed in this fashion," he said in a statement from the Oval Office. The Department of Homeland Security was stepping up security at certain federal facilities and supporting the FBI investigation, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. Media in Chattanooga, a city of about 173,000 people along the Tennessee River in the southeast of the state, said memorial services for the victims would be held in various churches. The Department of Defense will decide whether to release the names of the victims, federal officials said. An autopsy will determine how Abdulazeez died. The attack drew condemnation from Islamic groups. "We condemn this horrific attack in the strongest terms possible," said Nihad Awad, national director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. There have been other attacks on U.S. military personnel in the United States. In 2009, former U.S. Army major Nidal Hasan fatally shot 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas. He said he targeted unarmed soldiers preparing for deployment in retaliation for U.S. wars in the Muslim world. And in May, two gunmen opened fire with assault rifles at a heavily guarded Texas exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad. Both men were shot to death by responding authorities. (Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago, Eric Johnson in Seattle, Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee, David Bailey in Minneapolis, Frank McGurty and Katie Reiley in New York, Emily Stephenson, Julia Edwards, Lindsay Dunsmuir, Doina Chiacu and David Alexander in Washington, Dan Whitcomb and Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles; Writing by Jon Herskovitz and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Clarence ================= Shooting in Chattanooga, Tenn.  4m USMC Commandant Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. via Twitter: 'Please keep our fallen Marines and their families in your thoughts. Our focus remains with supporting the families.' - @GenDunford See original on twitter.com  Shooting in Chattanooga, Tenn.  10m Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke on Twitter: 'Like all Chattanoogans, woke up with a heavy heart. Keep the wounded US Navy sailor and our own CPD officer in your thoughts and prayers today' - @AndyBerke See original on twitter.com Jul 17, 2015, 01:20 PM GMT 15m Upcoming: A press conference on the Chattanooga shooting that killed 4 Marines is expected today at 3 pm ET. Investigators are searching a computer belonging to suspected Chattanooga gunman Mohammad Abdulazeez, but have not yet found evidence suggesting he was directly inspired by the Islamic State militant group. A female US Navy sailor in serious condition and a police officer remain hospitalized following Thursday's shooting. End of note Alert my friends  Chattanooga, TN   crime & courts  editor items  Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant   Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez   Shooting in Chattanooga, Tenn.   United States Marine Corps   Chattanooga, TN  46m University of Tennessee-Chattanooga will hold a vigil at 9 am ET at its University Center for shooting victims - @UTChattanooga See original on twitter.com  Chattanooga, TN  53m Mohammad Abdulazeez, alleged gunman in Chattanooga attacks, was arrested for drunk driving in April in Hamilton County - @AP Read more on bigstory.ap.org  Chattanooga, TN  2h A Marine Corps recruiter injured during Chattanooga shooting was treated and released from the hospital, US Marines say - @cnnbrk Read more on www.cnn.com  Chattanooga, TN  2h Sgt. Dennis Pedigo, Jr. identified as Chattanooga officer shot in ankle; could be released from hospital as early as Saturday - @WRCB Read more on wrcbtv.com  Chattanooga, TN  2h FBI investigating a blog apparently posted by Mohammad Abdulazeez 3 days before shooting that said 'life is short and bitter' and Muslims should not let 'the opportunity to submit to Allah ... pass you by' - @NBCNews Read more on nbcnews.com  Chattanooga, TN  3h Photo: A makeshift memorial featuring several American flags placed outside strip mall in Chattanooga, Tenn. - @NC5_MTorres See original on twitter.com  Chattanooga, TN  3h Photo: Sgt. Thomas Sullivan was 40, two tours of duty in Iraq, and earned a Purple Heart - @masslivenews See original on masslive.com  Chattanooga, TN  4h Local media identify 1 of 4 Marines killed in Chattanooga shooting as USMC Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan - @OakLawnPatch Read more on patch.com  Chattanooga, TN  10h There is 'no indication' that anyone else was involved in fatal shooting of 4 marines in Chattanooga, Tenn., FBI official says - @AP, @Reuters Read more on dailymail.co.uk  Chattanooga, TN  10h FBI says women seen handcuffed at house searched following Chattanooga, Tenn., shooting were not arrested, it is common practice to handcuff residents during a search - @TimesFreePress See original on twitter.com  Chattanooga, TN  10h Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., on Chattanooga shooting: 'Our nation mourns the senseless loss of four of our nation's heroes. Another one lays in very serious condition' - @LetsJett See original on twitter.com  Chattanooga, TN  10h No safety concerns for the general public following Chattanooga, Tenn., shooting, official says - @LetsJett See original on twitter.com  Chattanooga, TN  11h Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA issues statement condemning 'senseless' Chattanooga, Tenn., shooting, adding they are 'proud of the many Muslim Americans who serve this country in the armed forces and dedicate their lives to protecting America. We pray for the speedy recovery of those wounded, and offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims' - @WRCB Read more on wrcbtv.com  Chattanooga, TN  12h Sailor injured in Chattanooga, Tenn., shooting in 'serious' condition, official says - @cnnbrk Read more on www.cnn.com  Chattanooga, TN  13h Photo: Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam speaks in Chattanooga, Tenn., following deadly shooting - @meganlbrantley See original on twitter.com  Chattanooga, TN  13h Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says he's 'incredibly impressed' by cooperation of state, local and federal authorities in Chattanooga, Tenn., shooting End of alert  Chattanooga, TN  13h Editor's note: Law enforcement sources have told @nytimes that the father of the Chattanooga, Tenn., shooting suspect was at 1 point on a terrorist watch list but was eventually removed. The sources cautioned that the investigation into the father was old. - Jillian Read more on nytimes.com  Chattanooga, TN  13h Photo: People visit memorial set up at scene of Chattanooga, Tenn., shooting that left 4 people and gunman dead - @ASpiratoNC9 See original on twitter.com  Chattanooga, TN  13h Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga releases statement condemning shooting 'in strongest possible terms as one of cowardice and hate' - @katebelz See original on twitter.com  Chattanooga, TN  14h Federally-owned Tennessee Valley Authority confirms Chattanooga, Tenn., shooting suspect Mohammad Youssuf Adbulazeez was student intern 5 years ago - @TimesFreePress See original on twitter.com

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