Chattanooga Shooting: Gunman Was Suffering From Depression, Family Says

Chattanooga Shooting: Gunman Was Suffering From Depression, Family Says
Marines march in 2011 New York Veterans Day Parade DVIDSHUB / Flickr CC BY 2.0

The family of the perpetrator of the shooting in Chattanooga, which resulted in the deaths of four Marines and a sailor, said on Saturday that he had suffered from depression for years and “was not the son we knew and loved.”


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

Abdulazeez’s acquaintances are being questioned while his trips to Jordan are being looked into by counterterrorism investigators. The motivation behind the reign of terror unleashed by him on Thursday is still under scrutiny.

According to CNN, U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said the shootings are being investigated as an “act of domestic terrorism.”

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However, Killian also said the incident has as of yet not been classified as a terrorist attack.

Ed Reinhold, special agent in charge of the regional FBI office, said that no link between Abdulazeez and either ISIS or any militant organization has been established. The gunman was also not on any U.S. databases of suspected terrorists.

In 2013, Abdulazeez lost his job at an Ohio power plant after 10 days. Last year, he was pulled over for DUI. According to his friends, he was at a firing range recently.

Juan Zarate, CBS News national security analyst, said, “One of the scary and dangerous dimensions of this case is the fact that perhaps we couldn’t have done more to prevent the attack. And I think that’s really the danger of these kinds of potential lone wolf cases.”

The family of Kuwait-born Abdulazeez said they were offering cooperation into the investigation of the gunman responsible for the bloodshed at a military recruiting office and a Navy-Marine operations center.

“We understand there are many legitimate questions that need to be answered,” the family 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 text message sent from Abdulazeez to one of his friends has been of particular interest to the investigators. As reported by CNN, law enforcement officials said the message was sent before the attack.

It read, “Whoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine, then I have declared war against him.”

With regards to the family’s claim that Abdulazeez had been under depression for several years prior to the attack, CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes said depression is not a likely cause for anyone to kill.

“I think mental health professionals would be not happy with what the parents are assessing, in saying, ‘Well, he was depressed, and therefore that’s why he became a killer like this,'” Fuentes said. “People with depression do not turn, necessarily, into psychopathic killers — as he did.”

As reported by CBS News, the president of the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga, Bassam Issa, said Abdulazeez’s father told him he was shocked 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,” Issa said.

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