A gunman opened fire Thursday at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, killing four marines.
The alleged shooter, who also died, has now been identified by a US official as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, according to the AP. Details are starting to roll in about the suspected shooter.
Abdulazeez was born in Kuwait in 1990, according to NBC News, but had since become a naturalized US citizen.
According to SITE Intelligence Group, a Maryland-based company that tracks online activity of White supremacist and Jihadi organisations, Abdulazeez’s mother is from Kuwait and his father from Palestine.
He was booked this past April for a DUI.
According to Reuters and SITE, Abdulazeez blogged on Monday that “life is short and bitter” and Muslims should not miss an opportunity to “submit to Allah,” according to an organisation that tracks extremist groups.
The Daily Beast is reporting that Abdulazeez’s blog was very short-lived. It only had two posts, both published on July 13th and in the style of Islamic religious reasoning. The first post was called “A Prison Called Dunya,” referring to the temporal world, and the second was called “Understanding Islam: The Story of the Three Blind Men.” In each, Abdulazeez used a story to explain his reasoning.
Life is a test, Abdullazeez wrote in the first post, “designed to separate the inhabitants of Paradise from the inhabitants of Hellfire.”
Abdulazeez is from Hixson, Tennessee, a short distance from Chattanooga, Tennessee. He lived in a two-story house with his parents. The house is being searched by Hixson police for evidence.
Abdulazeez attended Red Bank High School, a public high school located in Red Bank,Tennessee, also a short drive from Chattanooga.
According to University of Tennessee at Chattanooga spokesman Chuck Cantrell, a
man named Youssuf Abdulazeez graduated from the school in 2012 with a degree in electrical engineering. A recent resume posted online shows Abdulazeez was searching for work as an electrical engineer. More recently, Abdulazeez interned for carpet manufacturer Mohawk Industries, Global Trade Express, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
A Tennessee Valley authority spokesman told BuzzFeed News, “He was a student intern approximately five years ago. As a member of the Chattanooga community, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims.”
A woman who attended Red Bank High School told the Times Free Press that Abdulazeez was a well-liked kid.
“He was friendly, funny, kind. I never would have thought it would would be him … [His family was] your average Chattanooga family,” said Kagan Wagner.
Abdulazeez was remembered by many at Red Bank for his yearbook senior picture, which bore the quote “My name causes national security alerts. What does yours do?” according to the Times Free Press.
Many in the neighbourhood where Abdulazeez grew up expressed shock to Reuters:
Mary Winter, president of the Colonial Shores Neighbourhood Association, said she has known Abdulazeez and his family for more than 10 years.
“We are all devastated and in disbelief. He’s only 24, to do this,” she said. “We’ve known him and his sisters since he was very young. I think only his parents live there now. We’re all shocked and saddened. He never caused any trouble.
Winston Garth, who recalled playing soccer with Abdulazeez at high school near Chattanooga, said he was incredibly surprised that Abdulazeez was the suspected gunman.
“He was always real quiet,” Garth said. “I just remember him as being really into media studies and making videos, which he was really good at.”
The suspect’s father reportedly works for the City of Chattanooga Public Works Department and was appointed as an unarmed special policeman by the Chattanooga City Council as of 2005.
Abdulazeez was reportedly an avid wrestler in high school and moved onto mixed-martial-arts after graduating.
One of his wrestling teammates spoke highly of Abdulazeez to the Times Free Press.
“He was an unbelievable nice person. He was honestly one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met,” says Ryan Smith.
According to Smith, Abdulazeez and his family were very religious.
“His family, they all wore the drapes and stuff, all the women in his family wore the little hoods.”
A video of one of his fights has surfaced on YouTube:
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