Wounded sailor dies in Tenn.
Navy petty officer slain with Marines in Tenn. rampage was a reservist
A Navy petty officer and father of three shot in the Chattanooga rampage died early Saturday.
A Navy sailor wounded during a shooting rampage Thursday in Chattanooga, Tenn., died early Saturday, making him the fifth U.S. service member to die in the attack.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, 26, was a married father of three children and an active-duty Navy reservist. He died at 2:17 a.m. Saturday in a nearby hospital.
“He loved his family,” said Smith’s step-grandmother, Darlene Proxmire, in a phone interview. “His wife and his three little girls were his whole world.”
Four Marines were also killed in the attack. Like Smith, they were shot at a Navy operations center by a gunman who drove his car through an outer fence, got out, then opened fire inside the building.
Aveteran Chattanooga police officer, Sgt. Dennis Pedigo, was wounded in the ankle.
On Saturday, authorities were still trying to understand the motives of the gunman, 24-year-old Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez. He was killed by police at the Navy building after first firing at a military recruiting storefront several miles away, authorities said. So far, authorities think that he acted alone.
The FBI was still trying to determine whether Abdulazeez had any links to terrorist groups or was radicalized on the Internet. One U.S. official cautioned it could take several more days before the FBI reached any conclusions.
Abdulazeez’s family, which lives in nearby Hixson, Tenn., was cooperating with the investigation, said a person who had spoken with the family.
Investigators said they found four different guns at the second shooting scene: two handguns, a shotgun and an assault rifle that was a Kalashnikov variant. At least three of the guns— the assault rifle, the shotgun and one handgun — were believed to belong to Abdulazeez.
A friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his family, said Abdulazeez liked to shoot guns and in the last year had bought two assault rifles— an AK74 and an AR-15 — as well as a Saiga-12 pistol-grip shotgun from an online weapons site.
Investigators were unsure whether the other handgun belonged to Abdulazeez.
Overall, authorities said they were following more than 200 leads in the case, including tips that had come in via a hot line at 865602-7582. On Saturday, they said, law enforcement officials and “victim witness specialists” had met with family members of the victims, as did top officials from the Navy and the Marine Corps Reserve.
Across the country on Saturday, governors in several states — including Indiana, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma — issued orders that would allow more National Guard personnel to carry weapons for protection.
“It is with a heavy heart that I issue this order,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said in a written statement. “After the recent shooting in Chattanooga, it has become clear that our military personnel must have the ability to defend themselves against these type of attacks on our own soil.”
The Defense Department generally prohibits service members from carrying private concealed weapons on U.S. bases and only allows certain people — mainly military police and sentries — to carry weapons at all.
But governors oversee their states’ own Guard forces, and may change the rules at state-owned Guard facilities.
In addition, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) orderedhis state’s National Guard to move its recruiters from six storefront locations around the state and put them in armories until the storefronts could be better secured.
Scott also said the state would speed up the processing of personal concealed-weapons permits for any National Guard members who applied.
Jason Brown, right, and Josh Cox plant a cross with the name of the fifth shooting victim, Navy sailor Randall Smith, on it Saturday in Chattanooga, Tenn., at a memorial site.