CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — As the shooting rampage at two military facilities here claimed another victim Saturday, states around the nation sought to bolster security for local military recruiters by pulling them into safer locales or authorizing them to be armed.
Petty Officer Second Class Randall Smith, 26, a logistics expert who had only recently reenlisted in the Navy, died just after 2 a.m. Saturday from his wounds, becoming the fifth service member killed in the shootings at a military reserve center and a nearby recruiting center.
Four Marines died in the shootings Thursday. The gunman, Mohammod Abdulazeez, 24, was then fatally shot in a faceoff with police officers.
Abdulazeez unleashed a barrage of fire at a recruiting center in Chattanooga, then drove several miles away to a Navy and Marine reserve center, where he shot and killed the Marines and wounded Smith.
The dead Marines were identified as: Sergeant Carson A. Holmquist of Grantsburg, Wis.; Gunnery Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan of Springfield, Mass.; Staff Sergeant David A. Wyatt of Burke County, N.C.; and Lance Corporal Squire K. Wells of Cobb County, Ga.
Two other people, a Marine and a Chattanooga police officer, remained hospitalized Saturday with wounds that were described as not life threatening.
Smith, who grew up in Paulding, Ohio, was married and the father of three young daughters. He was shot three times, suffering wounds to the liver and colon.
Darlene Proxmire, Smith’s step-grandmother, said Saturday that despite the severity of the sailor’s wounds, he had been able to give his wife the thumbs-up sign in the hours after the attack.
“He loved the Navy, his wife, and three little girls,” she said.
Smith played baseball at Paulding High School. A high school yearbook also said he ran cross country and was a member of the Student Council.
Proxmire said Smith had won a scholarship to play baseball at Defiance College in Ohio, a small liberal arts college affiliated with the United Church of Christ. He was unable to play, however, after he suffered a shoulder injury. He joined the Navy shortly afterward.
After the shootings, Republican governors in at least four states have authorized their National Guard commanders to arm National Guard personnel at military bases, and in some cases at recruiting offices.
Separately, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed an executive order Saturday closing all six of the state’s storefront National Guard recruitment offices and directed staff to move to local National Guard armories.
Investigators are searching for a motive for the killings. Abdulazeez was a naturalized US citizen born in Kuwait. So far, they say, they have not found evidence that he was directed by anyone or had ties to the Islamic State.
Federal officials are examining his computer and other electronic devices to trace his communications and the websites he visited and they are seeking to learn more about a seven-month trip he made in 2014 to Jordan, where he has relatives, to see whether he was radicalized overseas.
Chattanooga prides itself on strong ties between people of different faiths, and some Muslims voiced concern that the community’s perception of them may have changed after the shooting rampage.
Mohsin Ali, a member of the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga, said he hoped the local community didn’t dissolve into turmoil the way others have in the region over the building of mosques and other matters, the Associated Press reported.
“We, our kids, feel 100 percent American and Chattanoogan,” said the Pakistani-born Ali, who is a child psychiatrist. “Now they are wondering if that is how people still look at them.”
Valencia Brewer, the wife of a Baptist minister, knows how she will try to see Muslims as the days after the horrific shooting turn to weeks. “I think the way you have to look at it is this was an individual person. You can’t point at all Muslims because of this,” she told the AP.
Ali and Brewer were among more than 1,000 people who attended a memorial service Friday night at a Baptist church for the victims. Ali, one of the speakers, railed against Abdulazeez as a “murderer” who committed a “cowardly and cruel” act.
“He shot our Marines and our police officers, shattered the peace of our city, frightened our children,” Ali said. “He destroyed the lives of his whole family. He did his best to spread hatred and division. Disgraceful. And we will not let that endure.”