Chattanoogans Find Killings Of Four Marines 'Incomprehensible' Officials are trying to piece together why a man shot the Marines yesterday in a rampage at two military facilities. As details emerge, people in Chattanooga are asking how this could happen there.
NPR logo

Chattanoogans Find Killings Of Four Marines 'Incomprehensible'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/423740589/423740590" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Chattanoogans Find Killings Of Four Marines 'Incomprehensible'

Chattanoogans Find Killings Of Four Marines 'Incomprehensible'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/423740589/423740590" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

There are far more questions than answers this morning in Chattanooga, Tenn. A gunman fired at two military facilities there yesterday, killing four Marines and injuring several others, including a police officer. The suspect later died. Investigators are calling this a possible act of domestic terrorism, and they're trying to understand what happened and why. Rabbit Zielke from member station WUTC reports from Chattanooga.

RABBIT ZIELKE, BYLINE: The FBI identified the gunman as 24-year-old Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez. Authorities say yesterday morning, he took a rented convertible and drove it to a military recruiting center at a strip mall in Chattanooga. He was armed with several weapons and began firing into the building. Pictures of the scene show dozens of bullet holes in the plate-glass windows. Then, with Chattanooga police in pursuit, he drove to a Naval Reserve base a few miles away, crashing through a fence. It was there, authorities say, he killed four Marines. At a news conference, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said the shootings were shocking.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS CONFERENCE)

ANDY BERKE: It is incomprehensible to see what happened and the way that individuals who proudly serve our country were treated.

ZIELKE: The FBI is leading the investigation. Already, some details have emerged. Abdulazeez was a resident of Hixson, right across the river from Chattanooga. He'd lived there for years with his family and graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Law enforcement sources tell NPR the suspect's father was investigated for ties to terrorism several years ago. The suspect, Abdulazeez, was born in Kuwait but was a naturalized U.S. citizen. Bill Killian is the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS CONFERENCE)

BILL KILLIAN: This is a sad day for the United States. These service members served their country with pride, and they have been the victims of these shootings. We are conducting this as an act of domestic terrorism.

ZIELKE: The FBI says it's too early to speculate on the gunman's motives. Special agent Ed Reinhold says federal law enforcement, Homeland Security, local police and other agencies are just now beginning to try to understand what happened.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS CONFERENCE)

ED REINHOLD: We are looking at every possible avenue, whether it was terrorism, whether it was domestic, international or whether it was a simple criminal act. We're looking at that.

ZIELKE: Investigators went to the suspect's home to look at computers, his online history and any affiliations he might have had.

Last night, there were several vigils in Chattanooga as people gathered to mourn.

At Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, people crowded in to listen to a church service. Father David Carter asked for mercy on the city and for peace for the victims and their families. Terrance Jones was at the vigil.

TERRANCE JONES: You know, it's one thing for families to have to worry about their loved ones that are serving when they're overseas and deployed, and it's another thing when they're working in a recruiting office in Chattanooga, Tenn., you know? And it was really surprising, and it was really sad.

ZIELKE: People in Chattanooga are struggling with what happened and are worried they won't view their city the same way again. For NPR News, I'm Rabbit Zielke in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.