A gunman opened fire at two military offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Thursday, killing four Marines before he was fatally shot.
Officials called the attack a brazen, brutal act of domestic terrorism, Reuters reported.
The suspect was identified as Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was too early to speculate on a motive for the rampage. Authorities have expressed concern about the threat posed by “lone wolves” to domestic targets.
“We are treating this as an act of domestic terrorism,” Bill Killian, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, was quoted as saying.
NBC reported that Abdulazeez was a naturalized American born in Kuwait.
US officials said law enforcement authorities are investigating whether he was inspired by Islamic State or a similar militant group.
President Barack Obama offered his condolences to the victims’ families and said officials will be prompt and thorough in getting answers on the shootings.
“It is a heartbreaking circumstance for these individuals who have served our country with great valor to be killed in this fashion,” he said in a statement from the Oval Office.
Chattanooga is a city of about 173,000 people along the Tennessee River in the southeast of the state.
The suspect, seen driving an open-top Ford Mustang, is believed to have first gone to a joint military recruiting center in a strip mall and sprayed it with gunfire, riddling the glass facade with bullet holes.
“Everybody was at a standstill and as soon as he pulled away everyone scrambled trying to make sure everyone was OK,” said a witness, Erica Wright.
Armed forces recruiting centers are often located in shopping centers and other prominent places.
The gunman then drove off to a Naval Reserve Center about 6 miles (10 km) away, fatally shooting the four Marines before being shot and killed in a firefight with police.
Three others were wounded in the attacks, including a police officer reported in stable condition and a Marine.
The shootings began at about 10:45 a.m. local time and ended about 30 minutes later.
The suspected shooter is believed to have lived in the area and acted alone, police said.
Mary Winter, president of the Colonial Shores Neighborhood Association, said she had known Abdulazeez and his family for more than 10 years and was stunned at the crime.
“We’re all shocked and saddened,” Winter said. “He never caused any trouble. We can’t believe that this happened. We were just planning to have a swim team banquet tonight.”
– Contact us at [email protected]