FBI Has "No Motive" For Hixson Man Who Carried Out Rampage Against Military Targets

  • Thursday, July 16, 2015

Authorities said thus far they were at a loss on why a 24-year-old UTC graduate carried out a "horrific" shooting of military personnel in Chattanooga on Thursday.

 Authorities are trying to determine if Abdulazeez had any ties to terrorist groups.

Four Marines were killed and a female sailor is fighting for her life after the rampage that started at a recruiting station on Lee Highway and ended at the Naval Reserve Center by the Riverpark. A city police officer was shot in the leg.

A SWAT Team and numerous police units later Thursday went to his home on Colonial Way Circle, which is off Colonial Drive near Lake Chickamauga. Near-by neighbors were told to leave their residences. A woman was taken from the house in handcuffs and placed in a police car.

Abdulazeez, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Kuwait, said on a graduation photo, "My name causes national security alerts. What does yours do?"

The former high school wrestler was killed by a Chattanooga Police officer after ramming a gate at the Naval Reserve Center on Amnicola Highway, where the four victims were shot. He was in a rented Mustang.

Abdulazeez was stopped on MLK Boulevard on April 20 and cited for not maintaining his lane.

He was a 2012 graduate of UTC with a degree in electrical engineering.

President Barack Obama gave a live statement from the White House condemning the attack and saying authorities will make every effort to determine the facts surrounding the incident. He issued his condolences to the four families who lost loved ones.

FBI Agent in Charge Ed Reinhold said the shooter started at the military facility on Lee Highway around 10:45 a.m. Numerous bullet holes were in the front door, and there were a number of shell casings on the parking lot. The front glass to the recruiting center said in part, "Gun-Free Zone."

Witnesses said a convertible pulled up and the driver brought out a large gun. One person said he "fired one shot, then there were endless shots." She said some people from the recruiting office and nearby businesses ran out the back door.

Agent Reinhold said the man then drove the seven miles between the two facilities, and the entire incident was over in about 30 minutes. Chattanooga Police pursued him along the route.

Early on, Mayor Andy Berke said one police officer and a shooting suspect were down.  Mayor Berke tweeted "Horrific incident in our community. We will release details as they are confirmed. Prayers to all those affected."

At the press conference he called it "a nightmare for the city of Chattanooga," saying there was "a vicious attack at two different locations on people who proudly serve our country."

Mayor Berke called it "incomprehensible" and said authorities "will respond will every resource we have available."

The mayor later said he spoke with officers who had been at the scene with them telling him "of the harrowing incident with bullets flying by them."

Police Chief Fred Fletcher praised city and county police for responding quickly and preventing further carnage. He said the actions of local police "saved many lives."

Agent Reinhold said the gunman had numerous weapons with him.

Numerous ambulances and emergency vehicles went to both scenes.   Additional ambulances were still going to the scene at Amnicola Highway as late as 11:40 a.m.

Chattanooga State Community College nearby was on lock down and later called off classes for the rest of the day.

Amnicola Highway was blocked in both directions for a lengthy time. 

Shortly after 1 p.m., police said the "active shooter" situation was over.

Special ATF agents were being sent to Chattanooga in response to the shootings. Agent Reinhold said several hundred FBI agents would be sent here to investigate.

U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said the FBI is in charge of the probe, but that it would be a joint investigation.

He said it was still to be determined whether it was an act of terrorism or a criminal act.

U.S. Attorney Killian called it "a sad day for the United States."

Officials from Erlanger said, "Today a tragic incident took place in our community.  Following the shooting incident which occurred this morning on Amnicola Highway, Erlanger’s Trauma Center received three shooting victims, a Chattanooga police officer and two members of the military.  One of those patients was discharged from Erlanger this afternoon; the other two are still being treated.

"Erlanger officials continue to work closely with the Mayor’s Office, Chattanooga Police Department, Hamilton County Emergency Operations Center and federal officials.  More information will be released on the condition of the remaining gunshot victims as it becomes available.

"Our facility remains open to patients.  Emergency patients are still being accepted, and everyone has the ability to arrive and depart from our hospital.

"Please join our staff in keeping the families and victims of this terrible tragedy in your thoughts and prayers."

Authorities said they had no warning about the attack.

No flights at the Chattanooga Airport were impacted; the airport has remained open and operational throughout the day.

Several Chattanooga churches were open for prayer and vigils on Thursday night, and some memorials were placed near the shooting sites.  

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