Still waiting for “President” Obama to call this an act of terror by a muslim…
Two fathers, a 21-year-old barely out of boot camp and a Purple Heart recipient who served two tours of duty in Iraq have been identified as the four Marines savagely murdered in Thursday’s terror attack in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Gunnery Sgt Thomas J Sullivan, 40; Lance Cpl Skip Wells, 21; Sgt Carson Holmquist, 27 and Staff Sgt David Wyatt, 37 were training at a Navy reserve center just after 11am on Thursday when gunman Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, a naturalised U.S. citizen, pulled up in a rented silver convertible and started shooting at the group through a fence in the second stop on a deadly double shooting spree.
Just minutes earlier, the Muslim who grew up in the upscale suburb of Hixson had fired dozens of rounds into the offices of a military recruitment center at a strip mall – leaving one injured. The brutal attack was eventually brought to an end when police intervened and shot dead Abdulazeez.
Loved ones of those senselessly murdered, paid tribute to them today as an ‘amazing father’, a perfect Marine, and a young man who ‘felt called to serve’.
And touching photos reveal the lives behind their service. Skip Wells, the youngest victim, shared a moving photo on Facebook hugging his girlfriend and proudly posing in uniform – his baby-faced portrait a testament to his early years cut short while David Wyatt, a married father of two, is pictured in an emotional homecoming with his two children, who are proudly waving American flags for their hero dad.
LANCE CPL SKIP WELLS
Prior to joining the Marines, Wells studied history at Georgia Southern University, but did not graduate. According to pictures posted to Facebook, he had recently returned from a trip to DisneyWorld with his mother.
Family friend Garrett Reed, who has known Wells since the fourth grade, told CNN that Wells’ mother also served in the Marines and that Wells was in the ROTC in high school.
‘He loves his country, his momma served in the military…I think he just wanted to follow in her footsteps,’ Reed said.
Reed said he was shocked when he learned that his childhood friend had been killed in the terror attack on Thursday
‘You hear about this kind of stuff on the news all the time and you just never think it can happen to one of your friends,’ Reed said.
In describing Wells’ personality, Reed said: ‘He was just a funny guy, real caring. Just a really nice guy, you just couldn’t find a nicer guy than him.’
GUNNERY SGT THOMAS J SULLIVAN
Sullivan, from Springfield, Massachusetts served two tours of duty in Iraq, survived the battle of Abu Ghraib and was awarded the Purple Heart, his family told MassLive.
Sullivan’s brother Joe is a pub owner in their hometown, and wrote a post on the bar’s website in honor of his fallen sibling after hearing the terrible news.
‘He was our hero and he will never be forgotten. Please keep his family & friends in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you Tommy for protecting us,’ the post reads.
As the family mourns Sullivan’s passing, his brother has asked residents in their community to lower their American flags to half mast.
‘There’s no Marine you would want that was better in combat than him,’ Sullivan’s friend, Josh Parnell, told Patch. ‘He’d been shot at so many times over the years and then for this to happen at home in the United States.’
A woman claiming to be a friend of Sullivan’s on Twitter shared a picture of the sergeant in his uniform next to two Purple Hearts, writing: ‘RIP GySgt Thomas Sullivan, it was an honor knowing you and knowing you’re the reason why my mom would smile.’
Sullivan was one of three children to Jerry and Betty Sullivan and graduated from Springfield’s Cathedral High School before joining the military.
SGT CARSON HOLMQUIST
Sgt Carson Holmquist, a man who just returned from a nearly year-long deployment last July, was another of the four men tragically killed in Thursday’s shooting.
The 27-year-old originally from Grantsburg, Wisconsin leaves behind a wife, Jasmine, and a 2-year-old son Wyatt.
At the time of his untimely death, Holmquist and his young family were living in Jacksonville, North Carolina where he was stationed at Camp Lejeune.
While his family has yet to issue a statement on his death, it is very clear that he was loved.
Pictured posted to Facebook show his wife and toddler son with broad smiles, welcoming him home from a deployment last July.
In the photos, mother and son wave American flags and hold up posters reading ‘Welcome home Daddy!’ and ‘We’ve waited 244 days for this moment’.
Friends also paid tribute to the fallen Marine on Facebook, posting kind words like ‘You will be missed bud’.
STAFF SGT DAVID WYATT
Staff Sgt David Wyatt lived with his wife and two kids in Hixson, Tennessee – the same Chattanooga suburb where Abdulazeez grew up with his family.
As FBI agents swarmed the gunman’s home on Thursday, mourners began to arrive at Wyatt’s home just six miles down the road.
‘There were seven or eight cars there last night. I thought they were having a party. It didn’t go through my mind,’ neighbor Antony Madakcherry told the Tennessean.
Wyatt, originally from Russellville, Arkansas attended university in Montana before joining the military.
He married his wife Lorri in December 2004, and the couple went on to have two children – a boy and a girl according to photos posted on Mrs Wyatt’s Facebook.
As friends and family wrote their condolences on Facebook Thursday night, Lorri responded and thanked everyone for their support, writing that her husband had been ‘an amazing father’.
On Friday, a Hamilton County Sheriff’s Deputy was stationed outside of the family’s home.
The shooting that killed the four men started just before 11am on Thursday, when gunman Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez pulled up to a strip mall in Chattanooga and started shooting through the glass windows of a military recruitment office from the drivers seat of a rented silver convertible.
Abdulazeez then sped off and drove about seven miles north to a U.S. Naval Reserve Center near a Coca-Cola bottling plant and the Tennessee RiverPark, where he opened fire again at a group of servicemen through a fence.
All four of the victims killed in the shooting were shot dead at the Naval Reserve center. Just one person was shot at the military recruitment offices and was treated and released for their injuries.
The shooting was finally brought to an end when police officers intervened. Abdulazeez reportedly rammed the sports car into a gate and then was shot dead by a police officer.
In the aftermath of the shooting, it was revealed that Abdulazeez was a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Kuwait before moving to America with his family in 1996. His father was reportedly born in the Palestinian territories.
Authorities are still scrambling to find a motive for the attack, but a blog posts written by Abdulazeez just three days before the attack suggests he may have become radicalized in his Islamic faith.
A cryptic blog on Abdulazeez’s Islamic beliefs also surfaced, where he talked about submitting to Allah just three days before staging the horrific attack.
He wrote: ‘Brothers and sisters don’t be fooled by your desires, this life is short and bitter and the opportunity to submit to allah may pass you by.’
According to The Daily Beast, he added: ‘Take his (Allah’s) word as your light and code and do not let other prisoners, whether they are so called “Scholars” or even your family members, divert you from the truth. If you make the intention to follow allahs way 100 per cent and put your desires to the side, allah will guide you to what is right.’
At a press conference on Thursday, authorities said they were investigating the shootings as an act of ‘domestic terrorism’ but the FBI said that Abdulazeez had not been on their radar.
A federal law enforcement official says authorities are continuing to search the computer belong to the gunman, but as of Friday morning, haven’t found an extensive online presence.
The official says they also haven’t uncovered evidence suggesting Abdulazeez was directly inspired by the Islamic State militant group. But the official says the review is continuing.
FBI investigators are also looking into a trip Abdulazeez took to Jordan, where he lived before emigrating to the U.S., last year.
Reuters and the Wall Street Journal are reporting that authorities are looking into whether he may have had contact with exremists during the seven-month stay in 2014.
There are also questions about whether Abdulazeez may have visited Yemen on this trip, a country known as a hot-bed for extremist groups like AQAP – the Arabian Penninsula affiliate of al Qaeda.
The gunman’s father, Youssef Abdulazeez, was also put on a terror watch list in the past, but ultimately cleared.
The investigation allegedly had to do with the Palestinian-born father’s contributions to a charity and questions about whether the money was being funneled to fund terrorism.
Via: Daily Mail