A gunman opened fire Thursday at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, WRCB reports.
Andy Berke, the mayor of Chattanooga, confirmed that five people are dead, including four Marines and the gunman.
“We are treating this as an act of domestic terrorism,” said Bill Killian, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, adding that no official determination of the nature of the crime had yet been made. The FBI said it would conduct a “thorough investigation” but that speculation on the motive “would be premature.”
A US official told the AP that the gunman has been identified as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. Officials believe he was born in Kuwait and had been living in Hixson, Tennessee, which is just a few miles across the river from Chattanooga. The Times Free Press of Chattanooga reported that the shooter was a 2012 graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
President Barack Obama, speaking from the Oval Office of the White House after returning from a trip to Oklahoma, said the shooting appeared to be the work of a lone gunman. He said he was briefed upon his return by FBI Director James Comey.
“I want everybody to understand we will be thorough and prompt on figuring out exactly what happened,” Obama said.
He added: “I’d ask all Americans to pray for the families who are grief-stricken at this point.”
Three others were wounded in the attacks that began at about 10:45 a.m. local time and ended about 30 minutes later.
Witnesses and local media reports said the gunman, driving an open-top Ford Mustang, fired at two locations, including a military recruiting center and a US Navy Reserve center about six miles apart.
The other site is roughly six miles away, near a large park where Marines do their training and other operational work, a Chattanooga Free Press reporter explained to CBS.
All four Marines were reportedly killed at the facility, which is known as the The Navy Operational Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center Chattanooga, or the Naval Reserve Center.
“Today, the Navy and Marine Corps team collectively mourn the loss of four heroes,” Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said in a statement. “The tragedy in Chattanooga is both devastating and senseless. On behalf of the entire Department of the Navy family, I offer my deepest condolences to the families of those killed and wounded in service to our nation during this incident.”
A woman who works across the street from the recruiting center told The Associated Press that she heard shots fired at 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.” The gunfire continued for approximately 20 minutes, she said.
A witness said the gunman appeared to be calm.
“Everybody was at a standstill and as soon as he pulled away everyone scrabbled trying to make sure everyone was OK,” said Erica Wright, who works two doors down from the recruiting center.
The city along the Tennessee River is in the southeastern section of the state, a few miles north of the Georgia border. Just over 173,000 people live there, according to a 2013 estimate from the US Census Bureau.
Reuters contributed information to this story.
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