CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Four Marines were killed yesterday by a gunman who opened fire at two military offices in Chattanooga before being fatally shot by police.
The shooter was identified as Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez by investigators. They're still looking for a motive behind the attack.
Three of the Marines were veterans who'd survived tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fourth was relatively new to the Marine Corps, fresh out of boot camp. Even though their service records differed, they were united in their country and their service.
Gunnery Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan, Lance Corporal Squire "Skip" Wells, Staff Sergeant David Wyatt and Sergeant Carson Holmquist were the four fallen Marines. They were all from differing backgrounds, but all had two things in common -- they fought for their country and were all targeted by the same person.
The violence didn't come from a wartorn country nor was it a known enemy. Abdulazeez wasn't on any terrorist watch lists and his only trouble with the law was a drunken driving arrest in April. He had a blog that hinted at his religious inner life. The blog only had two posts, both published July 13 and written in a popular style of Islamic religious reasoning.
Flags are flying half-staff at city hall in Springfield, Mass., for Sullivan. He received two Purple Heart medals during his career. The governor posted Sullivan’s photo on Facebook saying "terror comes home to Massachusetts.”
Wells, a Georgia native, wanted to join the military to follow in his family's footsteps. Skip was 21, the youngest of the Marines, and had swapped text messages with his girlfriend of two years who had just booked a trip to Chattanooga to visit him after months apart. Wells texted his girlfriend, Caroline Dove, saying, "can't wait anymore." She responded, “yes you can honey." Wells' next text was the last one she would ever get. It read "active shooter." Hours of silence followed until Friday when she learned he had died.
Wyatt's family is mourning the loss of a man they say will be remembered for his humor, kindness and dedication. His wife confirmed the loss of her husband on her Facebook page.
Holmquist left behind a wife and son. The Wisconsin native had returned from an overseas deployment in May. It was his second tour in Afghanistan.
Families and loved ones wondered why such a senseless fate met their decorated heroes.
The FBI hasn't released much more information on the suspect, saying they don't know yet what motivated the bloodshed, but is working on an assumption. FBI Special Agent Edward Reinhold said, "we will treat this as a terrorism investigation until it can be determined that it is not."