Around 10:45 AM Thursday, a man opened fire at an Army recruitment center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then moved on to a nearby Navy Reserve operations support center, where he killed four Marines. By 1:15 PM, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, a 24-year-old Jordanian born in Kuwait, was dead. He's been named the chief suspect in what US Attorney Bill Killian says is being investigated as a act of domestic terrorism.
As Fox News reports, Sergeant Thomas Sullivan, 40—a veteran of the Battle of Abu Ghraib in Iraq—was one of the marines killed. The other three were Lance Corporal Skip "Squire" Wells, of Marietta, Georgia; Sergeant Carson Holmquist of Grantsburg, Wisconsin; and Staff Sergeant David Wyatt of Chattanooga. The Tennesseanreports that a Navy sailor, a police officer, and a fifth Marine were also injured in the attack.
According to a local NBC affiliate, Abdulazeez was naturalized citizen and grew up in the Chattanooga suburb of Hixson. Federal court records show that his father, Youssuf S. Abdulazeez, filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2002.
As the Chattanooga Free Press reports, Abdulazeez graduated from Red Hook High School, where he was a wrestler whose senior yearbook quote read, "My name causes national security alerts. What does yours do?"
By most accounts, Abdulazeez was a polite guy, if a tough one. He graduated from wrestling to mixed martial arts, with a gym owner telling the New York Times, "He wouldn't tap out; he elected to pass out." A cage fight from 2009 in which Abdulazeez defeats another Tennessean named Timmy Hall has been posted on several forums and websites dedicated to the sport.
The shooter was also serious about school. A resume posted online shows that he graduated from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga in 2012 with a degree in electrical engineering—the university confirmed his attendance to the Chattanooga Free Press—and took on a variety of internships.
Last year, Abdulazeez took a seven-month trip to Jordan, and according to the Wall Street Journal, authorities are investigating whether he contacted extremists in the region during that time. The Times talked with a local leader of a mosque and cultural center who said that Abdulazeez had been attending Friday prayers more frequently in the past two or three months.
A Knoxville NBC affiliate reports that Abdulazeez was arrested on DUI charges on April 20. Officers allegedly smelled marijuana when they pulled him over and he admitted to crushing and snorting caffeine pills. No alcohol was found in Abdulazeez's system, and it's unclear if he was ever convicted.
Little is known about Abdulazeez's personal views at this time, though a blog he apparently wrote does contain lines about how "this life is short and bitter" and that Muslims shouldn't let "the opportunity to submit to allah… pass you by."
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