NYT Report: Slain Marines in Chattanooga Likely Saved Lives

Daniel Doherty
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Posted: Jul 23, 2015 7:00 AM
NYT Report: Slain Marines in Chattanooga Likely Saved Lives

The New York Times reports:

Some of the Marines who were shot to death last week in Chattanooga, Tenn., effectively sacrificed themselves to save the lives of others, diverting the gunman away from a larger group of potential victims, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation into the killings.

“This could have been a lot worse,” said the official, who did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation. “It could have been a horrible, horrible massacre — so much worse.”

Translation: These Marines knew they were in mortal danger. And yet, they reportedly responded to the attack as heroes by baiting the gunman to follow them, thus shielding others. No words. If confirmed, these brave men, in my view, probably deserve some sort of recognition or posthumous award. There’s no telling how many lives they saved because of their quick-thinking and selfless sacrifice.

Meanwhile, the Navy Times reports that two service members may have actually confronted the shooter…with gunfire:

A Navy officer and a Marine fired their sidearms hoping to kill or subdue the gunman who murdered five service members last week in Chattanooga, Tennessee, according to multiple military officials familiar with internal reporting on the tragedy.

It remains unclear whether either hit Muhammad Abdulazeez, who was shot and killed on July 16 after he gunned down four Marines and a sailor at the Navy Operational Support Center in Chattanooga. It's also unclear why they were armed, as it is against Defense Department policy for anyone other than military police or law enforcement to carry weapons on federal property.

A report distributed among senior Navy leaders during the shooting's aftermath said Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White, the support center's commanding officer, used his personal firearm to engage Abdulazeez, Navy Times confirmed with four separate sources. A Navy official also confirmed a Washington Post report indicating one of the slain Marines may have been carrying a 9mm Glock and possibly returned fire on the gunman.

Fox News' John Roberts reported on Happening Now yesterday that the return gunfire may have convinced the shooter to avoid an area of the facility where some 20 huddled Marines were located. That is, more military personnel could have been killed if these two men weren't (unlawfully) carrying weapons.

Finally, the FBI confirmed in a press conference on Wednesday that there are as many as 1,000 agents still investigating what happened. Here’s what else we learned: Edward Reinhold, a spokesman for the FBI, preliminarily declared that the shooter was a “homegrown violent extremist” who “acted on his own.” He confirmed that the alleged terrorist rammed his car through the Navy Operational Support Center’s gate, after which he gained entry into the building. The shooting lasted for “three to five minutes,” he said. He went on to say four military personnel were killed outside the “motor pool area” — and one service member was “mortally wounded” inside the facility.