4 marines, gunman killed in Chattanooga shooting - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

4 marines, gunman killed in Chattanooga shooting

Muhammad Youseef Abdulazeez (Source: Chattanooga Police Department) Muhammad Youseef Abdulazeez (Source: Chattanooga Police Department)
(Source: WRCB 3) (Source: WRCB 3)
(Source: WRCB 3) (Source: WRCB 3)
(Source: WRCB 3) (Source: WRCB 3)
(Source: WRCB 3) (Source: WRCB 3)
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WAFF) -

Eight people, including a Chattanooga police officer and four Marines, were shot around 9:30 a.m CT Thursday in Chattanooga. The four Marines and the lone gunman were killed in the shooting. The names of the victims killed have not been released.

The shooting suspect was identified as Muhammad Youseef Abdulazeez, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Kuwait. Abdulazeez, 24, was a Hixson resident. Hixson is just a few miles north of Chattanooga. 

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke called the shooting a "nightmare for the city." Berke said there were two other victims of the shooting who were being treated at an area hospital.

One of the victims was a Marine who was wounded in the leg, but not seriously hurt, according to the Marine Corps. 

The first shots were fired at Navy recruiting offices in the 6200 block of Lee Highway in Chattanooga. Shots were fired minutes later at the Navy-Marine Corps Reserve Center on Amnicola Highway. The two locations are about six miles apart. Officials say the entire incident lasted within 30 minutes.

Pictures showed the door of the recruiting building riddled with bullet holes. 

Law enforcement swarmed the house believed to belong to Abdulazeez on Thursday afternoon. An Associated Press reporter saw officers with weapons drawn at the house and two females were led away in handcuffs. It's not clear who these females are.

U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said in a press conference that officials are treating the shooting as an 'act of domestic terrorism.' The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, ATF and Chattanooga police are cooperating on the investigation. 

Killian later backed off his statement.

"Do not get caught up in labels," said Killian, adding that the case is ongoing and investigators will work to determine the motives behind the attack.

FBI Special Agent In Charge Ed Reinhold said numerous weapons were recovered from the shooter, who is believed to be local to the Chattanooga area. Reinhold added that the incident will be treated as a terrorism until it can be proved otherwise. Officials are not saying how the shooter was killed, but they believe he acted alone. There was no intelligence that indicated this attack would happen. 

The two entrances to the Navy Reserve Center have unmanned gates and concrete barriers that require approaching cars to slow down to drive around them.

WITNESSES DESCRIBE SCENE

Gina Mule, a witness, told CNN she was opening up a store right before 11 a.m. She said she saw a white male reload his “high-powered” rifle and then drive away in his silver-colored car.

"I looked out, saw a white guy in a silver drop-top Mustang. He had a big, big high-powered rifle. He was opening fire, the Air Force, Marines and Navy offices," Mule told CNN. "There was no one outside, he pulled up outside the offices and started firing into the building."

A second witness told WRCB she heard several gunshots, and then police began arriving on Amnicola Highway. After police searched the building she worked in, she was told to go inside and lock the doors.

According to WRCB, the officer injured in the the shootings, Dennis Pedigo, had been on the Chattanooga police force for 16 years. Pedigo was shot in the ankle, is stable and underwent surgery on Thursday afternoon.

Erlanger Hospital told WRCB that they were treating multiple victims at the hospital, which was placed on lockdown during the search for the suspect. Two police officers armed with rifles were at the hospital guarding the emergency room. The lockdown was lifted at 1 p.m.

GUNMAN'S BACKGROUND

Muhammad Youseef Abdulazeez was a 2012 University of Tennessee at Chattanooga graduate. He had been arrested in April by Chattanooga police for DUI, according to WRCB. Court records obtained by WRCB also show that he had been stopped for speeding in 2011.

In his high school yearbook, Abdulazeez had a quote printed next to his picture that read, "my name causes national security alerts. What does yours do?"

LEADERS SPEAK OUT

President Obama and other leaders spoke about the shooting on Thursday.

"I ask all Americans to pray for the families that are grief-stricken at this point." the president said, shortly after arriving to Washington from Oklahoma. 

Vice President Joe Biden said the United States will get to the bottom of the shootings, asking Americans to keep the families in their prayers. 

The president reiterated Thursday evening that the shootings appeared to be the work of a lone gunman.

The Tennessee governor also extended his sympathies to the family

"I join all Tennesseeans in being both sickened and saddened by this," said Governor Bill Haslam.

Mayor Berke tweeted Thursday morning, saying "Horrific incident in our community. We will release details as they are confirmed. Prayers to all those affected." 

Tennessee Senator Bob Corker released a statement, saying he is heartbroken by the shootings that happened in his hometown.

“I am heartbroken by the tragic shootings that have taken place today in my hometown. We have been in touch with federal, state and local officials and continue to monitor developments and have offered our assistance. This is a difficult day for Tennesseans and our thoughts and prayers are with all affected by this tragedy.” 

In a press release Thursday evening, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the following:

"It is with a heavy heart that I learned of today's tragic events in Chattanooga. My thoughts and prayers - along with those of the men and women of the Department of Defense - are with the families of those killed in this senseless act of violence and with all those touched by this tragedy, including our Navy and Marine Corps family. I am grateful to local law enforcement for their swift response. The department will continue to work with local law enforcement as they investigate this heinous crime and will support our military families in their time of grief."

CHATTANOOGA RESPONDS

By Thursday afternoon, Chattanooga residents had begun erecting makeshift memorials near the recruiting offices on Lee Highway. Others gathered at the offices with signs, expressing their sorrow about the shooting.  Area churches also planned vigils for Thursday evening. 

Lines at blood banks in Chattanooga were out the door Thursday afternoon as people lined up to donate blood.

STATEWIDE LOCKDOWNS

Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga was also placed on lockdown during the search for the suspect. Hamilton County officials asked the FAA to implement a no-fly zone over Chattanooga while police searched for a suspect. The airport was back to normal status shortly after noon.

WSMV in Nashville reported that the governor's residence in Nashville was on lockdown because of the Chattanooga incident. The lockdown was removed just after 1:15 p.m. The War Memorial and Capitol complex also have additional security in place. Police were sent to recruitment centers in Middle Tennessee as a precaution. All Middle Tennessee Navy recruiting employees were told to go home for the day. 

Bradley Square Mall in Cleveland, TN is also on a precautionary lockdown. Early reports indicated there was a shooting at the mall, but that turned out to be false. The mall will reopen at 5 p.m. Hamilton Place Mall in Chattanooga was placed on high alert on Thursday as well.

Chattanooga State Community College posted a TigerAlert to their website that there was a confirmed shooting near the college. They advised everyone to stay inside and close their doors. The lockdown was lifted on Thursday afternoon, but all classes were canceled for the remainder of the day. Lee University was on lockdown, but that was lifted just before noon.

Copyright 2015 WAFF and RNN. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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