Saturday 21 April 2018

Gunman kills four Marines in attack on military centres

A Tennessee Highway Trooper patrols near the scene of the shooting near the Naval Reserve Center, in Chattanooga, Tennessee
A Tennessee Highway Trooper patrols near the scene of the shooting near the Naval Reserve Center, in Chattanooga, Tennessee
Bullet holes in the windows of the recruitment centre
Police officers enter the Armed Forces Career Center through a bullet-riddled door after a gunman opened fire on the building (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)
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)

Rich McKay in Chattanooga

A GUNMAN shot dead four US Marines before he himself was killed in Tennessee yesterday.

Local officials described the attack on two military centres as brazen, brutal and an act of domestic terrorism.

The FBI named the suspect as Muhammod Youssuf Abdulazeez and said he was 24. NBC reported he was a naturalised American born in Kuwait.

U.S. officials said law enforcement authorities are investigating whether he was inspired by Islamic State or a similar militant group. The other four killed were all Marines at a Naval Reserve Centre.

"We are treating this as an act of domestic terrorism," said Bill Killian, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

The suspect, who was seen driving in an open-top Mustang, is believed to have first gone to a joint military recruiting centre in a strip mall, and peppered the facility with gunfire. No one was injured in the attack.

"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 centre.

The gunman then drove off to a Naval Reserve Centre about 10km away, fatally shooting the four Marines before being gunned down in a firefight with police.

Three others were wounded in the attacks, including a police officer and a Marine. The shootings began at about 10.45am local time and ended about 30 minutes later.

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

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

"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 for 20 minutes she estimated.

"There were numerous Chattanooga and Hamilton County officers who responded," Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher said.

"They arrived on the scene extremely quickly. They actively and enthusiastically engaged this brazen criminal, and one of those officers was injured by gunfire from this criminal."

A White House spokesman said President Barack Obama had been told about the shooting, and spokesman Eric Schultz said: "The President has been briefed by his national security staff on the Chattanooga incident, and will continue to get updates as warranted."

Lockdowns had been put in place at businesses, a college and other facilities near the shooting sites.

The city along the Tennessee River is in the southeastern section of the state, just north of the Georgia border.

Irish Independent

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