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National

4 People Killed In Shootings At Military Centers In Chattanooga, Tenn.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A deadly shooting today in Chattanooga, Tenn. A gunman opened fire at two military related facilities. Four Marines were killed, and the gunman is also dead. Today, President Obama expressed his condolences.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BARACK OBAMA: My main message right now is obviously the deepest sympathies of the American people to the four Marines that have been killed. It is a heartbreaking circumstance.

CORNISH: For more on this story, we're joined by reporter Rabbit Zielke of member station WUTC. And Rabbit, to begin, can you tell us what more happened?

RABBIT ZIELKE, BYLINE: Well, details are pretty sketchy. The FBI is the lead agency investigating what happened. And the special agent in charge really didn't want to reveal too many details. It's very early in the investigation, but here's what we do know. There was a single gunman, and it started in a military recruiting station located in a strip mall, you know, the kind of place where people go to sign up and join the military. Authorities say the identified gunman drove up and fired into the building from his vehicle. And the police were immediately called. They were close enough to pursue him from this site to another military facility which is a few miles away along a highway.

CORNISH: So they follow him to this next military facility. Then what happens?

ZIELKE: It's a naval reserve center. It's located in a downtown city park along the Tennessee River. And authorities say he shot up this building too, firing many bullets inside. And it was here where four people died and a few others injured, including a police officer who was shot in the leg. The Marine Corps tells NPR that the four who died were Marines, and another Marine was shot. And he's treated and released. At some point, the suspect died too. NPR's confirmed the name of the suspect from a law enforcement official. The name of the suspect gunman is Mohammed Yousef Abdul Aziz.

CORNISH: And what have authorities discussed about what a possible motive might be?

ZIELKE: They were not interested in speculating at all. It's much too early to say what happened or why. Typically in an investigation like this, they'll scout the suspect's background, checking for any sort of notes that might have been left behind or anything written on social media, but the FBI believes he was working independently.

CORNISH: Now, the U.S. attorney in Eastern Tennessee spoke at this news conference, and he called the shooting an act of domestic terrorism. He backtracked on that language later. What should we make of this?

ZIELKE: It's kind of hard to say. Authorities are being very careful at this point, basically saying they need more information. And before the news conference began, a local district attorney told me that the suspected shooter, Mohammed Yousef Abdul Aziz, was living locally in Chattanooga. We don't know if he's from here, but we know he was living here. So basically, there's more questions than answers at this point, and it will take some time to sort it all out.

CORNISH: Reporter Rabbit Zielke of member station WUTC - she reported to us on the shooting in Chattanooga, Tenn. Right now, it's reported that four Marines were killed. The gunman is also dead, and NPR's confirmed the name of the suspect from a law enforcement official, the suspect Mohammed Yousef Abdul Aziz. Rabbit Zielke, thanks so much for talking with us.

ZIELKE: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.