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Shooting at Military Recruiting Center: Identification, Description, Historical Background

The attack occurred at Chattanooga on July 16, 2015, when a 24-year old Kuwaiti gunman stormed a military recruiting station and opened fire to trainees before rushing to a Navy reserve facility seven miles away. In this center, he executed four US Marine officers on the spot in a fenced-in motor pool. This incident elicited an investigation into the possibility of domestic terrorism. Some statements obtained from law enforcement officials revealed that the unfolding shooting events at Chattanooga also left a police officer and two Marine Corps recruiters with grave injuries. The gunman, identified as Mohammad Yousuff Abdulazeez by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), succumbed to gunshots at the scene (Tuchman, 2015). The FBI confirmed that the assailant first spread bullets to a recruiting office along Lee Highway while still being in his hired convertible silver Ford Mustang. A few minutes later, seven miles away, the attacker forced his car through a gate at a Navy reserve facility. He opened fire and entered the main building in pursuit of sailors and Marines who were trying to get out of danger.

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A background check for the attacker showed that he was a United States citizen by naturalization, and attended both high school and college at Chattanooga, Tennessee (Tuchman, 2015). At the time of the shooting, counterterrorism authorities had not investigated Mohammad for any involvement with terrorist activities. However, a federal official in the inquiry pointed out that his father had been linked to donating financial resources to an organization associated with terrorist activities in the region.

Description of the Terrorist Group(s) involved and their Objectives

The motive of the attack elicits controversial debates on whether the incident was an act of terrorism or just an atrocious activity aimed at the police. However, a considerable number of reports linked the heinous events at Chattanooga to terrorism. According to Tuchman (2015), an FBI Director at the scene purported that the incident was “motivated by foreign terrorist organization propaganda.” Although these allegations did not directly provide a basis for identifying particular extremist groups that could have inspired Mohammad Abdulazeez, the FBI continued to investigate the shooting as an incidence of terrorism (Tuchman, 2015). The director’s remarks indicated that the activities were an act of radicalism. Nearly at the same time, President Barack Obama alluded to the incident along with several other extremist scenes such as the shooting spree in California by 26-year old Mason James Lira, which led to the death of one man and wounding of four police officers. Another incidence cited by the president entailed a suspicious man who waved a handgun while at a gas station in San Bernardino before the police fired gunshots at him.

These reports have been supported by the fact that terrorist threats have undergone constant evolution, primarily due to the development of better ways to combat multifaceted incidents such as the 9/11 attacks. This level of awareness is deemed to have turned assailants to assume less-intricate approaches, including mass shootings that have become increasingly common in the past few years (Tuchman, 2015). Nonetheless, there is insufficient evidence that ties the gunman to an international terrorist organization. The events that motivated the assailant to engage in the shooting are still unidentified.

An investigation into the Incident by Local, State, Or Federal Authorities

An investigation into the incident by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) unveiled various details about the assailant. Tilghman (2017) attested that the accused was involved in numerous incidences of non-adherence to traffic rules, and had pending court hearings. For instance, in April 2015, Mohammad was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs (Tilghman, 2017). The FBI was unable to distinguish the incident as terrorism or a criminal act. Nevertheless, US Attorney Bill Killian instructed the authorities to treat the scene as an act of domestic terrorism until a full investigation was done (Tilghman, 2017). Tuchman (2015) exposed that the assailant was incredibly intelligent at school and continuously got recognized for attaining high grades. This underpinning failed to support the reason for committing the atrocity.

Lessons learned from the Incident from an Emergency Management and Homeland Security Standpoint

Both extremism and domestic terrorism are well-understood phenomena amid increased radicalism in the recent past. People have gained experience from the heinous activities of attackers in various parts of the world (Tilghman, 2017). Therefore, it is essential to derive valuable lessons from an emergency management and homeland security standpoint. The shooting triggered mixed reactions among authorities over the state of security at the military centers. At the outset, Abdulazeez’s case teaches the importance of a multilayered emergence alert system designed to ensure effective and efficient communication of tragedies. Signals play a significant role in creating awareness of an incidence (Associated Press and Staff Report, 2015). For instance, in a shooting that occurred at Virginia Tech, students were oblivious to assailant activities on the campus. The existence of a well-organized emergence response system can avert many risks that could otherwise result in fatalities.

The incident also teaches the relevance of public information. The aftermath of a mass shooting involves great pressure from the public, victims’ families, and the media. People are impatient to find out fatalities, survivors, and the location of the victims. There is a need to ensure that a single voice delivers reliable and authentic information. Coordinating a single victim list with the police department, hospitals, EMS, and medical examiners to allow the communication of information to the right people is paramount (Associated Press and Staff Report, 2015). There should be plans to control rumors and ensure that the same information reaches the audience.

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It is essential to ensure adequate security and communication at police stations, schools, and offices. Physical barriers should be strong enough to protect security guards and stop any vehicles that may be intended to crash gates like in the case of Mohammad Abdulazeez. Relevant authorities should designate family assistance centers where the victim’s close relatives can assemble to wait for any updates on their loved ones, especially after a mass casualty incident. These locations serve as emergence shelters, and they need to be equipped with social amenities such as bathrooms, sitting space and chairs, private rooms for families, and adequate security management.

The shootings also instigated the formulation of a new policy to clarify the usage of state-level and local guns. This occurrence gave rise to legal and safety concerns on the use of personal weapons in public places. It was evident that one of the US Marine officers used a private gun in the shooting, an issue that raised controversy over the number of riffles involved in the incident (Tilghman, 2017). Finally, the event elicited a demand for high-level policies to arm troops in a bid to heighten preparedness across the United States.


Associated Press and Staff Report. (2015). FBI explains how Chattanooga shooting played out, how Mohammad Abdulazeez was killed. Web.

Tilghman, A. (2017). Chattanooga, one year later: Are troops any safer? Web.

Tuchman, C. C. E. S. A. G. (2015). Chattanooga shooting: 4 Marine killed in Tennessee. Web.

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