CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee — School administrators at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, where the gunman in Thursday’s shooting spree was a student, are working with law enforcement as investigators try to determine what motivated him to attack two military facilities in this city.
The shooter, identified as Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, graduated from the university with a degree in electrical engineering in 2012, school officials confirmed to NBC News Friday.
They did not see signs in the shooter’s school record that would have indicated trouble, added Steven Angle, chancellor for the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.
“There’s nothing that we have in terms of information about his activities that would have raised a red flag,” Angle said. “But we’re fully cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation to make sure we can answer all and any questions that they raise.”
He said students and school officials are in disbelief about Thursday’s events.
“You wonder: Dow did he pick up this inclination?” Angle said. “How did he decide and when did he decide that he was going to pursue a violent path?"
Abdulazeez was killed after spraying gunfire at the entrance of a military recruiting center here Thursday morning, and then driving to a Navy-Marine reserve center seven miles away. There, he got out of his car and shot and killed four U.S. Marines and critically wounded a U.S. Navy sailor. Officials said a police officer was also wounded.
In a somber ceremony on the university’s campus Friday, a policeman lowered the flag to half-staff in honor of the shooting victims. A school official said the order came from Tennessee’s governor, Bill Haslam. The university is part of the state’s public university system.
Earlier Friday, Angle addressed a vigil organized by a student veterans’ organization. About 50 students gathered by the flag at 9 a.m. as the national anthem was sung and a small number of student veterans saluted.
Jeremy Bryson, 36, a co-chairman of the veterans’ organization, said the vigil “really touched my heart.”
“I enlisted at that same recruiting station on Lee Highway in 1997. That’s where I signed my papers,” Bryson said.
Bryson says he served three tours in Iraq before retiring on a medical discharge due to back problems and a reconstructed right ankle — the result, he says, of concussions and other damage from roadside bombs. He’s studying childhood development and education on a GI package.
“He had to come from somewhere and it just so happened to be my university,” Bryson said of the shooter. “I know my community, and I know my university. And that hatred was not bred here.”