Navy officer who shot July 16 Chattanooga attacker leads lawmakers in prayer [video]

Navy officer who shot July 16 Chattanooga attacker leads lawmakers in prayer [video]

January 12th, 2017 by Andy Sher in Politics State

U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tim White, who fired at the shooter during the July 16 attack on the U. S. Naval and Marine Reserve Center, delivers the keynote speech at the CHI Memorial Heroes Luncheon at the Chattanoogan in Chattanooga in 2015.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

Lt. Cmdr. Tim White, who returned fire at Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez during the 24-year-old's deadly, terrorist-inspired assault in Chattanooga in 2015, received a standing ovation Wednesday during a joint convention of the Tennessee General Assembly.

The occasion was the Naval officer's delivery of the prayer for the day.

Representatives and senators rose to their feet and applauded White as Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, introduced him, cited the attack and noted that "as a little historical note, the first three bullets that went into the jihadist were from Commander White's gun."

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It appears to be the first time it's been said that three of White's bullets struck Abdulazeez, who was later described by Vice President Joe Biden as a "perverted jihadist," with FBI Director James Comey saying his agency's investigation showed the 24-year-old had been "motivated by foreign terrorist organization propaganda."

After first attacking two U.S. and Tennessee National Guard recruiting stations on Lee Highway, Abdulazeez drove to the Navy Operational Support Center on Amnicola, where he shot and killed four Marines and a sailor.

White drew and emptied his revolver at Abdulazeez. A Pentagon spokesman had previously told the Times Free Press that officials believed White first shot Abdulazeez before the Hixson man died from fatal wounds during a Chattanooga police barrage of gunfire.

In a Times Free Press interview later on Wednesday, White said "it was obvious that it was the police that fatally wounded Abdulazeez. But he was also hit on his right side, and I'm the only person who had that aspect of him as he was running from his car to the front of the reserve center.

"He was hit on his shoulder and on his hip, and we think about three times. I fired six shots and at least three of the shots hit him," White added.

Earlier, the Navy commander, who arrived at the Capitol with his wife, Franicia, and the couple's seven children, displayed a different side of who he is. A devout Christian.

"Please join with me in prayer," he asked lawmakers. "Praise the Lord. Praise, oh servants of the Lord. Praise the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forever more."

"Teach us to depend upon you and make us to be that precious, valuable, faithful servant. Father be gracious to us and bless us and make your face to shine upon us, that your way may be made known on earth, your saving power among all nations."

Lawmakers gave White another standing ovation when he finished.

The July 16, 2015, shooting in Chattanooga forced a national conversation about protecting federal and state military installations. Personal weapons are generally not permitted.

As a result of the attack, Tennessee and a number of other states now allow members of the National Guard to carry personal weapons provided they have a state-issued handgun permit.

In White's case, there was a debate about whether he should have had a personal firearm. But there is a provision that lets the decision be made by the "commanding officer."

Navy officials have taken no action against White, but the officer and U.S. Naval Academy graduate said "it's not necessarily resolved. They haven't done anything, but they haven't said nothing is going to happen. What they've said is they are waiting for the FBI investigation to be closed and then they'll take action as necessary."

But he noted the Navy has "been very supportive. My whole chain of command has been supportive, from my immediate boss all the way up. I think I'm just very thankful for that. I know there are a lot of different sides to that coin of me having a weapon — whether that should be rewarded or praised or whether I should be reprimanded," White added. "Because looking at it in different ways, it could have been breaking a regulation.

"But," White said, "since I'm the commanding officer, my ultimate responsibility is for the safety of the facility and the people. And the Navy regulations specifically say the commanding officer is responsible to protect against terrorism. That's what I was doing and that was why I had my weapon."

Wednesday was the second day of the new 110th General Assembly organization. After White's invocation, the House and Senate re-elected Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Treasurer David Lillard and Comptroller Justin Wilson to new terms of office.

Contact Andy Sher at asher @timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.


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