A lone gunman attacked military personnel at two separate locations July 16 in Chattanooga, Tenn., first at a military recruiting station and then a Navy Reserve Center approximately 15 miles (roughly 24 kilometers) away. In the first attack, the gunman opened fire on the exterior of the recruiting station, causing material damage but no reported serious injuries. From the recruiting station, the gunman drove to the Navy Reserve Center, where the two entrances to the facility were unmanned. Though there are few details on the events of the shooting at the naval center, a total of five people, including the gunman, were reportedly killed there.
Authorities have identified the shooter as Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, a 2012 graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga who earned an engineering degree. Abdulazeez was reportedly born in Kuwait, but his immigration status is presently unknown. Law enforcement has already conducted a raid on the suspect's home in Hixson, Tenn.
Investigators are still attempting to determine the motive for the shootings, but it is noteworthy that recruitment centers, military entrance processing stations and National Guard armories have figured prominently in past grassroots plots inside the United States. In addition to the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula-inspired attacks in Fort Hood and against an armed forces recruiting office in Little Rock, Ark., numerous attacks against military bases such as Fort Dix, Fort Hood, Fort Riley and other targets such as military entrance processing centers have been thwarted.
While recruitment centers are symbolic military targets, recruiters are typically unarmed and recruitment centers are vulnerable soft targets for unskilled grassroots jihadists. Whether this case was domestic terrorism, or merely a criminal mass murder, it is a reminder that everyone — military or civilian — should practice good situational awareness and be prepared to react to danger.