Friday 30 September 2016

Four marines killed in shooting attacks on military facilities

Published 16/07/2015 | 19:04

The windows of the Armed Forces Recruitment Center have several bullet holes from a shooting as the area is cordoned off with blue shell casing markers in the parking lot on Thursday (Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
The windows of the Armed Forces Recruitment Center have several bullet holes from a shooting as the area is cordoned off with blue shell casing markers in the parking lot on Thursday (Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
Reserve Recruitment personnel stand outside a Navy recruiting building as the area is cordoned off with blue shell casing markers in the parking lot on Thursday, July 16, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)

At least four US Marines were killed when a gunman unleashed a barrage of shots at two military facilities in Tennessee today, officials said. The suspect was also killed.

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Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said a total of five people died, including the gunman.

US Attorney Bill Killian said officials were treating the attacks as an "act of domestic terrorism", though FBI Special Agent in Charge Ed Reinhold said authorities were still investigating a motive.

Two officials told the Associated Press that four US Marines were among the dead. A soldier was being treated in hospital for a gunshot wound to the leg, according to one of the officials. The other official said a police officer was also injured.

"Lives have been lost from some faithful people who have been serving our country, and I think I join all Tennesseans in being both sickened and saddened by this," Governor Bill Haslam said.

There was also a shooting at a military recruitment centre about 7 miles (11km) away.

Store employees look out their door next to the Reserve Recruitment Center as the area is cordoned off after a shooting on Thursday (Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
Store employees look out their door next to the Reserve Recruitment Center as the area is cordoned off after a shooting on Thursday (Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Paul Clendenen guards the top of the C.B. Robinson Bridge at Amnicola Highway after a morning shooting near the Naval Reserve Center, in Chattanooga, Tenn. on Thursday (Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)

Brian Lepley, a spokesman for the US Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Kentucky, said his recruiters there were told by law enforcement that the gunman, who was in a car, stopped in front of the facility, fired at the building and drove off.

The Army recruiters at the facility told Mr Lepley they were not hurt and had evacuated. Mr Lepley said he had no information about recruiters for the other military branches at the facility.

Sergeant 1st Class Robert Dodge, an Army recruiter in Chattanooga, said he was at his office when someone opened fire and he heard 30 to 50 shots.

President Barack Obama has been briefed by his national security team on the shootings, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said, adding that the president will continue getting updates from his staff as needed.

Marilyn Hutcheson, who works just across the street, said she heard a barrage of gunfire at around 11am local time.

"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, where she remained locked down with other employees and a customer. The gunfire continued with occasional bursts, she estimated, for 20 minutes.

"We're apprehensive," Ms Hutcheson said. "Not knowing what transpired, if it was a grievance or terroristic related, we just don't know."

A US official later said the gunman had been identified as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez.

He was believed to have been born in Kuwait, and it was unclear whether he was an American or Kuwaiti citizen.

He was from Hixson, Tennessee, which is just a few miles across the river from Chattanooga.

Chattanooga's mayor described the killings as "incomprehensible".

Mayor Andy Berke told a news conference that the gunman had also been killed but did not say how.

"I want to say again, it is incomprehensible to see what happened and the way that individuals who proudly serve our country were treated," he said.

"As a city, we will respond to this with every available resource we have."

US president Barack Obama promised a thorough and prompt investigation into the attack.

He called the shooting a "heartbreaking circumstance" and said it appeared it was committed by a lone gunman.

Mr Obama spoke in the White House's Oval Office minutes after returning to Washington from a trip to Oklahoma. He was joined his counter-terrorism and homeland security adviser and the FBI director.

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