Four U.S. Marines and a Navy sailor died in the deadly attack Thursday in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Three others were injured. Authorities say they have have not yet determined a motive.
Among those murdered by Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, the gunman who unleashed a barrage of fire at two separate Chattanooga military facilities, is the young father of a 2-year-old son, a mentor of wounded veterans, and a two-time Purple Heart recipient who, while attempting to aid a wounded colleague, ran towards the gunfire.
“[Abdulazeez] shot our Marines and our police officers, shattered the peace of our city, frightened our children,” Mohsin Ali, a member of the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga, told reporters on Saturday. “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.”
The Marine Corps identified the victims as Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan of Hampden, Massachusetts; Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt of Burke, North Carolina; Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist of Polk, Wisconsin; and Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells of Cobb County, Georgia.
On Saturday, the Navy said Petty Officer Randall Smith of Paulding, Ohio, died in the hospital as a result of his injuries.
Below are photographs and some information about the victims.
Carson A. Holmquist, 25, was a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps (USMC), born in Grantsburg, Wisconsin. He was the fourth to be shot and killed by Abdulazeez. He is survived by his wife, Jasmine, and his 2-year-old son, Wyatt.
After enlisting in 2009, Holmquist was twice deployed to Afghanistan—once in 2013, and again in 2014. He returned from his last deployment in May. During his service, he earned several medals and honors, including the Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal for meritorious service.
“I vividly remember when he came back to the high school after boot camp,” Josh Watt, who was Holmquist’s high school principal and football coach, told the Associated Press. “He was dressed in his blues and very proud of his accomplishment to have become a Marine.”
Thomas “Gunny” Sullivan
Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan, 40, of Springfield, Massachusetts, was shot and killed on Thursday while racing to the aid of a wounded colleague. Fellow Marines say that Sullivan could have fled to safety, but died a hero.
“The only thing on his mind was if his Marines were OK,” Marine Sgt. Amanda Vincent said in a message to Sullivan’s family. “He had a chance to jump the fence and run, but instead he ran back to make sure [I] and the others inside and the Marines that were shot were OK.”
Know simply as “Gunny” among friends, Sullivan, an 18-year USMC veteran, was deployed twice during the Iraq war, where he had received two Purple Hearts. Sullivan “dedicated his life in brave service,” his hometown mayor, Dominic Sarno, said.
Squire “Skip” Wells
Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells, 21, dreamed of becoming a drill sergeant, according to his girlfriend of two-and-half years, Caroline Dove. He was swapping texts with her just before he was killed by the shooter on Thursday.
“Can’t wait anymore,” Wells messaged Dove. “Yes you can honey,” she replied. She initially took the following message as a joke. “ACTIVE SHOOTER,” it read. After hours of text she texted him again: “I love you.”
“Hon, I need you to answer me please,” she wrote once news of the shooting broke. She would not hear from him again.
The two had been apart for several months. Dove had just purchased a plane ticket to visit Wells in Chattanooga. During their last visit around Valentine’s Day, he had given her a gold and silver ring.
Wells, who was called “Skip” by his friends, had attended Georgia Southern University studying history before following in his family’s footsteps and joining the Marine Corps.
Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt, 35, a Russellville, Arkansas native, survived two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan before being fatally shot Thursday. He lived in North Carolina with his wife, Lorri, and their two young children.
Wyatt was described by his former Scoutmaster, Tony Ward, as a man who enjoyed life and someone who cared about his fellow servicemen deeply. “He’s the kind of man that this country needs more of,” Ward said.
Enlisting in 2004, Wyatt was deployed to Afghanistan during one of the most violent periods of the war. Nevertheless, his fellow servicemen, who suffered the physical and emotional scars of combat, often drew strength from him. He was a mentor to many, according to those who knew him.
“I know a few guys who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and he’d always be like, ‘Hey man, let’s talk about it,'” Joseph Tyrrell, a Marine veteran and friend of Wyatt’s, told the Washington Post. “He really took a more direct approach to helping Marines than some others.”
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, 26, was the last victim of Abdulazeez. He died at 2am on Saturday, after undergoing multiple surgeries since Thursday’s shooting, officials said.
“He was just an awesome young man who loved his wife and three girls,” Darlene Proxmire, Smith’s grandmother, told the Navy Times. “He enjoyed the Navy and serving in the Navy. Just here in the past week or two he had re-upped for another tour.”
Smith is remembered for his love of baseball. He was recruited by Defiance College out of high school on a full scholarship, but suffered a shoulder injury and couldn’t play, according to his grandmother.
Smith later followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, who had served in the Navy. He was eventually deployed aboard an amphibious assault ship called Wasp, which participated in the disaster relief efforts following Hurricane Sandy.
Photo via Vince Alongi/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)