CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Friday, officials released new details about an attack at two military sites in Chattanooga that left four Marines dead Thursday.
Among those new details is that the suspected shooter, 24-year-old Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, was most likely killed by Chattanooga Police in a firefight, Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher said.
“Yesterday was a breathtaking example of that everyday courage, that everyday bravery that can often be taken for granted,” Fletcher said.
He said Chattanooga officers quickly and aggressively responded when the call came in. He said officers chased Abdulazeez from the first location, a strip mall military recruiting center, to the second, an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy. When they found him at the second location, “He soon made his intent, his cowardly homicidal intent, clear,” Chief Fletcher said.
Chattanooga Police engaged the gunman aggressively to make sure he harmed as few community members as possible.
“There is no doubt in my mind Chattanooga police officers prevented loss of life yesterday. They are heroes. They are my heroes,” Fletcher said.
At one point during the firefight, an officer was struck by gunfire. Fletcher said that officer’s teammates immediately dragged him to safety while returning fire against the shooter.
Evidence shows Abdulazeez was killed by Chattanooga police officers and did not kill himself, Ed Reinhold, FBI special agent in charge of the eastern Tennessee office, said. He said an autopsy had not been performed yet, though.
Reinhold said Abdulazeez had two long guns and one handgun, but was not wearing body armor. He did wear a “load bearing vest” used to carry additional ammunition. He said officials are reviewing how Abdulazeez got the weapons.
He was also able to clarify that Abdulazeez never left the military reserve once he arrived and was killed inside the fenced area of the compound. He added that all four Marines were killed inside the fenced area.
Reinhold said the FBI is following up on approximately 70 leads and people may see FBI activity in other parts of the state as the investigation unfolds.
U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said because the attack is being investigated as terrorism, it’s being investigated at the highest level. Officials are investigating any foreign travel Abdulazeez may have done and are contacting intelligence partners throughout the world for information concerning his travel and activities. Officials did not specify further which countries Abdulazeez may have visited, so as to let those countries focus on their investigations.
If you have any information about Abdulazeez and his activities prior to Thursday’s shooting, please call (865) 602-7582. Reinhold said no amount of information is too small.