Obama Orders FBI Probe of Tennessee Shootings
President Obama said what appeared to be a lone gunman in Chattanooga, Tenn., shot and killed four Marines during attacks on two military facilities Thursday, and he ordered an FBI investigation and security vigilance at military locations nationwide.
Seated in the Oval Office with FBI Director James Comey, Obama offered condolences to the families of the victims and to the U.S. military community, promising a “thorough and prompt” probe to be led by the FBI.
“We’ve also been in contact with the Department of Defense to make sure that all our defense facilities are properly attentive and vigilant as we sort through exactly what happened,” the president said within minutes of returning to the White House from Oklahoma, where he toured a federal prison.
“It is a heartbreaking circumstance,” Obama said, extending appreciation to the local law enforcement personnel in Tennessee who survived the assaults.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in a statement, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Justice investigators, the FBI, local law enforcement and the intelligence community were partnering “to ensure that the American people are protected and that justice is served.”
The shooting suspect, identified by the FBI as 24-year-old Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, was killed by local law enforcement at a Navy Operational Support Support Center where the four Marines were killed and three others were injured. The murders occurred shortly after an armed services recruitment center in a strip mall seven miles away in Chattanooga was riddled with bullets, apparently shot by Abdulazeez, who resided in nearby Hixson, Tenn.
Local officials reported Abdulazeez, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was not employed at either military facility.
The FBI issued a brief statement that it was too early in the investigation to ascribe motive. The Justice Department’s work with the intelligence community in a probe of the shooter’s background and actions indicated initial federal investigation of possible domestic terrorism.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter joined Navy Secretary Ray Mabus in mourning the dead and offering comfort to their families. Mabus called the killings “devastating and senseless.”
“I'd like to express my gratitude to the first responders on the scene whose prompt reaction was critical to stopping this individual from inflicting further violence,” Mabus said in a statement. “Though we can never fully prevent attacks like this, we will continue to investigate, review and guard against future vulnerabilities and do everything in our power to safeguard the security of our service members and their families."