This morning, four people were killed during a shooting at two Chattanooga, Tennessee-based military facilities; the gunman, who Reuters reported has been identified as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, was also killed. The gunman was allegedly in possession of several weapons, according to The New York Times, and officials are investigating this incident as "an act of domestic terrorism," reported ABC News. Thursday morning's shooting begs the question: How many shootings have taken place on U.S. military bases?
In recent memory, a shooting that killed 13 people took place on the Fort Hood military base in 2009. The killer, Nadal Hasan, was convicted on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of unmeditated murder, and sentenced to death, according to The Washington Post. Then, in just April of last year, a shooter opened fire at the same location, killing three people and injuring 16, according to CNN. There was also the shooting at Naval Station Norfolk in 2014, at Washington Navy Yard in 2013, and at Quantico's Marine base also in 2013.
And military shootings have preceded the 21st century. In 1994, a man killed several people at a military base hospital in Spokane, Washington. In 1995, American paratrooper William J. Kreutzer Jr. opened fire as troops carried out their morning exercises at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. He killed an officer and left 18 other soldiers wounded. He was sentenced to death, but the ruling was later overturned by a military appeals court, according to ABC 11 Eyewitness News.
So, military shootings aren't unheard of, but they're certainly not particularly common. We can't call these occurrences a trend, but the repeat shootings at Fort Hood did have people wondering why this was happening so frequently. Although military shootings don't seem to have occurred at the same rate as other mass shootings (according to The Washington Post, one mass shooting per month since 2009), they are cause for many conservative voices to wonder if the Clinton-era legislation making military zones "gun-free" might make bases soft targets.
But in the military shooting incidents recorded, many of these shooters were military personnel with access to military weapons, making the "no gun zone" argument a problematic one to rely on. Following the second shooting at Fort Hood, USA Today detailed several "notable" incidents, and a military title appeared frequently along the list of alleged shooters.
Thursday's incident, though, involved an alleged suspect who was not a member of the military, and he also chose an off-base site for his first attack. The military recruiting center was located in a strip mall, a common location for recruiting spots, and he then moved on to the naval base. But regardless of the motivation for the location, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Burke summarized the only statement that can be confirmed at this point.
This was an individual who was motivated to do significant damage.