All four of the Marines killed in yesterday’s deadly attack at a Naval Reserve center in Chattanooga, have been identified. One of the Marines, 40-year-old Thomas J. Sullivan of 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, a pub owner in their hometown, wrote a post on the bar’s website following news of the tragedy.
The post reads, “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.”
According to Patch.com, “USMC Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan was working at the Marine Reservist Center in Chattanooga, about seven miles away from the military recruiting centers where authorities said Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez first opened fire.”
Sullivan’s friend told Massachusetts media, “There’s no Marine you would want that was better in combat than him. He’d been shot at so many times over the years and then for this to happen at home in the United States.”
Sullivan was one of three children and graduated from Springfield’s Cathedral High School before joining the military.
The shooting that killed Sullivan started just before 11am yesterday when Abdulazeez pulled up to a strip mall in Chattanooga and started shooting through the glass windows of a military recruitment center. Police say he was in the driver’s seat of his rented car, when he opened fire. Officers say he then sped off and drove about seven miles to a U.S. Naval Reserve Center, where he opened fire again at a group of servicemen through a fence.
All four of the victims killed in the shooting were at the Naval Reserve center.
One of them has been identified as 21-year-old Skip Wells, from Marietta, Georgia. He had reportedly just finished boot camp and family friends told local media, he “felt called to serve.” Before joining the Marines, Wells attended Georgia Southern University but didn’t graduate.
The other two victims have just been identified as Staff Sgt David Wyatt and Sgt Carson Holmquist. The shooter, a naturalized U.S. citizen, originally from Kuwait, was shot dead by police. He was 24 years old. Former high school classmates say they were shocked by the news. They say Abdulazeez seemed like a normal kid, who wrestled and came from a good family. But investigators believe he recently became radicalized.
According to the Daily Mail, the gunman blogged about his Islamic beliefs and talked about submitting to Allah just three days before staging the horrific attack.