Shooter’s fam­ily speaks

Says Chat­tanooga gun­man suf­fered from de­pres­sion; ex­presses hor­ror and grief

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

The fam­ily of the gun­man who killed four Marines and a sailor in Chat­tanooga says he had suf­fered from de­pres­sion for many years and “was not the son we knew and loved.”

“It grieves us be­yond belief to know that his pain found its ex­pres­sion in this heinous act of vi­o­lence,” the fam­ily of Muham­mad Youssef Ab­du­lazeez said in a state­ment is­sued Satur­day through a lawyer.

Law en­force­ment of­fi­cials did not re­turn calls seek­ing com­ment on the fam­ily’s as­ser­tion that Ab­du­lazeez was suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sion.

Coun­tert­er­ror­ism in­ves­ti­ga­tors, mean­while, con­tin­ued to in­ter­view Ab­du­lazeez’s ac­quain­tances and delve into his months-long visit to Jor­dan last year, look­ing for clues to who or what might have in­flu­enced him and set off the blood­shed Thurs­day.

The 24-year-old Kuwait-born Ab­du­lazeez opened fire at a mil­i­tary re­cruit­ing of­fice and a Navy-Marine oper­a­tions cen­tre a few miles apart.

Fam­ily mem­bers said they are co-op­er­at­ing with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“We un­der­stand there are many le­git­i­mate ques­tions that need to be an­swered,” they said.

“Hav­ing said this, now is the time to re­flect on the vic­tims and their fam­i­lies, and we feel it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate to say any­thing more other than that we are truly sorry for their loss.”

A law en­force­ment of­fi­cial who was not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity said FBI agents were con­tin­u­ing to in­ter­view peo­ple Sun­day and are reach­ing out to a broader cir­cle of po­ten­tial con­tacts and ac­quain­tances.

The of­fi­cial said that in­ves­ti­ga­tors were es­pe­cially in­ter­ested in Ab­du­lazeez’s trip to Jor­dan and were try­ing to de­ter­mine whom he met with, what he did and whether he might have gone or tried to go any­where else.

The pres­i­dent of the Is­lamic So­ci­ety of Greater Chat­tanooga said Ab­du­lazeez’s fa­ther told him he felt blind­sided by the at­tack.

“He told me that he had never seen it com­ing, and did not see any signs from his son that he would be that way and do some­thing like that,” Bas­sam Issa said.

Mean­while, gover­nors in at least a half-dozen states or­dered Na­tional Guards­men to be armed, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott moved his state’s Guard re­cruiters from store­fronts in ur­ban ar­eas to ar­mouries.

In Ten­nessee, where the shoot­ing oc­curred, Gov. Bill Haslam has called for a re­view of se­cu­rity poli­cies and pro­ce­dures at Na­tional Guard ar­mouries and other mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions in the state.

“We don’t want to leave our folks out there as tar­gets when we’ve had such a hor­ri­ble event hap­pen just three days ago,” Haslam told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sun­day.

AP PHOTO

Two women mourn Satur­day at a makeshift me­mo­rial near the Armed Forces Ca­reer Cen­ter for the vic­tims of the July 16 shoot­ings in Chat­tanooga, Tenn.

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