Officials: 4 Marines killed in ‘act of domestic terrorism’ in Chattanooga

 

UPDATE – 4:50 p.m.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) – A United States official says there’s no indication that the suspected Chattanooga gunman was under investigation by the FBI or on the radar of federal law enforcement at the time of the shooting.

The official was briefed on the investigation but was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The FBI says the gunman opened fire Thursday at a recruiting center and another U.S. military site a few miles apart, killing at least four Marines.

A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity identified the gunman as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez of Hixson, Tennessee, though the exact spelling of his first name was in dispute, with federal authorities and records giving at least four variations.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch says she’s directing the FBI to take the lead on a “national security” investigation into the Chattanooga attacks. In a statement, she calls the shootings a “heinous attack.”

UPDATE – 1:40 p.m.
The alleged gunman in Thursday’s shootings in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, according to two sources briefed on the case. He was born in 1990, a law enforcement official said.

CHATTANOOGA, TN (KRON) — Authorities say the shooter at the Naval Reserve Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee is dead and that there were three other victims in the day’s violence.

The officer-involved shooting happened at the U.S. Naval Reserve Center on Amnicola Highway in Chattanooga.

Click to enlarge map
Click to enlarge map

Four Marines were injured in the gunfire, and the incident is being treated as an act of domestic terrorism, authorities say.

GALLERY: 4 Marines killed in shooting 

The Naval Reserve Center is located near the Tennessee Riverpark.

Nearby the scene is Chattanooga State’s campus, which was placed on locked down as a precaution.

Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga was also placed “on precautionary lockdown” due to the shooting reports, hospital system spokeswoman Lisa McCluskey said.

CNN reports that Gina Mule, a server at a restaurant, said she saw a man who’d been in a silver convertible Mustang, firing a “high-powered rifle” at the recruiting offices.

She said she first heard “Pow, pow, pow!” around 10:50 a.m. She then went to a window, through which she said she saw the man firing shots.

“I don’t know how many shots he fired, but it was a lot,” she said.

Police are currently on the scene investigating.

The shootings began at the recruiting center on Old Lee Highway, where a shot rang out around 10:30 or 10:45 a.m., followed a few seconds later by more fire, said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Dodge, the leader for Army recruiting at the center.

He and his comrades got on the ground and barricaded themselves in a safe place. Dodge estimated there were 30 to 50 shots fired. Doors and glass were damaged at the neighboring Air Force, Navy and Marine offices, he said.

chattanooga shooting
The shootings began at the recruiting center on Old Lee Highway, where a shot rang out around 10:30 or 10:45 a.m.

Law enforcement officials told recruiters that the gunman was in a car, stopped in front of the facility, shot at the building and drove off, said Brian Lepley, a spokesman with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Kentucky.

The recruiting center sits in a short strip between a cellphone business and an Italian restaurant with no apparent additional security.

Within minutes of that attack, the gunman opened fire at the Navy Operational Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center Chattanooga. All of the dead were killed there.

The center is in a light industrial area that includes a Coca-Cola bottling plant. The two entrances to the fenced facility have unmanned gates and concrete barriers that require approaching cars to slow down to drive around them.

Marilyn Hutcheson, who works at Binswanger Glass across the street, said she heard a barrage of gunfire around 11 a.m.

“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.”

She ran inside, and she and other employees and a customer waited it out with the doors locked. The gunfire continued with occasional bursts for what she estimated was 20 minutes. Bomb squads, SWAT teams and other local, state and federal authorities rushed to the scene.

“If it was a grievance or terroristic related, we just don’t know,” she said.

Police officers enter the Armed Forces Career Center through a bullet-riddled door after a gunman opened fire on the building Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Authorities say there were multiple casualties including the gunman.   (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Police officers enter the Armed Forces Career Center through a bullet-riddled door after a gunman opened fire on the building Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Authorities say there were multiple casualties including the gunman. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

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