The Slatest

Obama Expresses Sympathies for Four Marines Killed in Chattanooga Attack as Gunman Is Identified

A cross under a billboard during a service at Victory World Church on March 3, 2012, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Update, 5:50 p.m.: The FBI has confirmed that the Chattanooga shooter was 24-year-old Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez. CBS News reported that the gunman was born in Kuwait and has been in the United States since 1996 when he was 6 years old.

President Obama also issued a statement on the attacks, expressing sympathies for the victims.

“It is a heartbreaking circumstance for these individuals who have served our country with great valor to be killed in this fashion,” Obama said. “I speak for the American people in expressing our deepest condolences [to the families of the victims].”

Obama confirmed that the FBI would be leading the investigation in concert with local law enforcement officials, and said that defense officials were also being updated on the situation.

“We’ve also been in contact with the Department of Defense to make sure all our defense facilities are properly attentive and vigilant as we sort through exactly what happened,” Obama said.

“We take all shootings very seriously,” he added. “Obviously when you have an attack on a U.S. military facility then we have to make sure that we have all the information necessary to make an assessment as to how this attack took place and what precautions we should take in the future.”

Obama promised a “thorough and prompt” investigation.

Update, 4:45 p.m.: Both CBS and NBC have identified the shooter as Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. The Associated Press reported that an unnamed U.S. official said that Abdulazeez was 24 years old and believed to be born in Kuwait.

NBC’s Pete Williams reported that the shooter was a naturalized U.S. citizen, though the AP said that their source was unclear on his nationality. The AP reported that Abdulazeez lived in Hixson, Tennessee, not far from where the attack took place.

The rampage started at a military recruiting center in Chattanooga before the shooter moved to a second location several miles away at the Navy Operational Support Center, which earlier reports mistakenly described as a second recruiting center.

In an official release, the U.S. Navy described the facility where four Marines were killed: 

The NOSC is used by Navy and Marine Corps personnel, and is often referred to as a “reserve center.” The NOSC Chattanooga mission is to provide training and readiness support for our reserve component personnel to enable them to support the needs of the Navy and Marine Corps team.

The police officer who was wounded in the attack was identified as Dennis Pedigo. The Marines have yet to be identified.

Update, 3:55 p.m.: Chattanooga city and U.S. federal officials confirmed on Thursday afternoon that four U.S. Marines were killed by a lone gunman in an attack on two separate military centers in the Tennessee city. The shooter also died after being engaged by local police.

“Somebody brutally and brazenly attacked members of our armed services,” Chief of Police Fred Fletcher told reporters.

Officials confirmed that the murders took place at a military center on Amnicola Highway after a separate attack on a recruiting center on Lee Highway, from which terrifying images of bullet-hole ridden window panes had appeared. They also confirmed that three others were injured, including one police officer. The FBI is leading the investigation.

There was some confusion as to whether or not this was being considered terrorism, or being investigated as such. U.S. attorney Bill Killian initially said the investigation was being conducted as if it were “an act of domestic terrorism” before ultimately backtracking and asking that “we not get caught up in labels.”

The FBI’s Ed Reinhold said “we will treat this as a terrorism investigation until it can be determined that it is not,” and then said “we are looking at every possible avenue” including the possibility that it was not terrorism. “If he’s motivated by ISIL or somebody else, that would be an act of terrorism,” Reinhold said.

Few details were released about the shooter, but Reinhold said that he was “from this area or residing in this area before the event.” He added that the shooter did not work at the facility where the Marines were killed. 

Local reporters said that multiple weapons were used by the gunman and one reporter tweeted an image purporting to be of the vehicle used in the attack.

Update, 2:30 p.m.: The Chattanooga Times Free Press is reporting that four Marines were killed in Thursday’s attack on two separate military centers in Chattanooga, according to their sources. CBS is reporting that three other victims were injured, and one was in critical condition.  

Update, 1:30 p.m.: CBS news is reporting that law enforcement officials have told them that the shooter in Chattanooga is dead. Their law enforcement sources also said that the police officer was shot in the leg and was not critically wounded, and that at least two Marines had also been injured in the attack.

Multiple media outlets were reporting the following photo, said to be of one of the recruitment centers that were reportedly attacked.

Original post:  A police officer has been shot and local officials and media reported that there had been multiple shootings near an Army Reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Thursday.

“There has been several (shootings) at several different locations. It’s a fluid situation,” said John Harmon, a spokesman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke confirmed that there was an “officer down” and called it a “horrific incident.”

Chattanooga State Community College was on lockdown, as was Lee University.

Local media were reporting that the incidents occurred at military recruiting centers.

The U.S. Navy was investigating reports of shooting incidents at two recruiting centers.

This is a developing story, and this post will be updated as more information becomes available.