The shooting at a Tennessee military facility that resulted in the deaths of four Marines is sparking concerns about security at recruitment centers, where military members are not allowed to be armed.
The centers are intended to be accessible, often located on busy streets or in strip malls. That can make them “a sitting duck,” according to former Boston police commissioner Edward F. Davis, who now runs his own security company.
“This is a very troubling development and shows there is a real threat to our military forces,” Davis said. “I really do believe there shouldn’t be federal prohibition against members of the military having firearms at facilities.”
Law enforcement officials said the alleged gunman in the Chattanooga shootings at two military facilities, 24-year-old Mohammod Youssef Abdulazeez, killed four Marines and wounded three others, including another service member and a police officer. Abdulazeez was killed at the scene of the second shooting.
Boston police and several other departments in Massachusetts increased patrols around military buildings and recruitment centers after the shootings.
Boston police Lieutenant Michael McCarthy said Friday the department is broadcasting messages to police radios reminding officers to be vigilant, aware, and “pay particular attention to military buildings.”
The Army announced Friday it will review security at recruiting and reserve centers, but that it was too soon to say whether the facilities should have security guards or other protection.
“Whatever the rules are, that’s what we follow,” said Brian Lepley, a public affairs officer for the Army Recruiting Command in Kentucky.
But he said turning recruitment centers into fortresses would go against the philosophy of the facilities. The centers need to be comfortable, he said, explaining that teenagers, high school councilors, and teachers regularly come through their doors.
Davis said he thinks those qualified and certified to carry a gun should have the choice of whether to bring a weapon while working in recruitment facilities.
“We have to adapt with the emerging threat,” the former police commissioner said, adding that patrols outside military buildings should be increased.
“To deny people have declared war on our civilian population is foolish,” he said.
Sergeant Timothy Kern, who leads the Army recruitment center in Boston, said service members working in recruitment buildings are trained to be vigilant.
“The unfortunate shooting . . . will not affect our recruitment efforts,” Kern said.
The public, he said, must be able to access information about the military in an “open and warm environment.”
In Bedford, police are in regular communication with nearby Hanscom Air Force Base, according to Police Chief Robert Bongiorno. He said that is usually the case, but with Thursday’s shooting in mind, enhanced security is in place.
Bongiorno said he wants people in the areas neighboring the base to know they should go about their normal business but not hesitate to report anything suspicious.
Sergeant John McKenna of Reading said his department routinely checks on a nearby National Guard facility. He said those patrols continued Friday, and officers will make extra inspections.
“When something like this happens, we take it seriously,” McKenna said.
Max Abrahms, a political science professor at Northeastern University who studies terrorism, said there has been a “statistically significant uptick” in domestic terrorism in the United States.
“And most of these attackers are lone wolves,” he said.
Last month’s shooting in South Carolina — allegedly at the hands of a white supremacist — resulted in the deaths of nine people at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Earlier in June, Boston police killed Usaamah Rahim, who they said was the subject of a terrorism investigation that focused on an alleged plot to kill police officers.
A Western Massachusetts man, Alexander Ciccolo, who is accused of plotting to bomb a local university in support of the Islamic State terror group, was held without bail this week.
“I think, absolutely, domestic terrorism threats are on the rise and are not limited to any particular type of terrorist,” Abrahms said.
Sara DiNatale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.