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Social media in Chattanooga went through stages of fear, loss and mourning Thursday after a shooter, identified as Hixson resident Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, killed four U.S. Marines and wounded others at a military recruitment center and a Navy and Marine reserve center.
First there was confusion as parts of the city were locked down, and Twitter and Facebook struggled to find and share verified information on what exactly happened. When the scope of the shootings and the loss of life became clear, Chattanoogans asked how this could happen in their sleepy backyard, usually far from international limelight. And then locals started to share not details of the news, but how they felt. They reached out.
The city's spirit of cooperation and solidarity, nicknamed by many "the Chattanooga way," colored posts, especially on Instagram.
The photo sharing social media site was blanketed with scenic images of Chattanooga its natural beauty, its iconic bridges and aquarium, views from well-known vantages points.
Many of the pictures were emblazoned with text and hashtags that reclaimed the town #noogastrong, #prayforchattanooga, #chattstrong.
And photo captions included heartfelt declarations of love to the city.
"This is my city. The place that I've grown up, and the place that I love," Mackenzie Hobbs said on Instagram.
"Hearing the word 'Chattanooga' makes my heart inevitably skip a beat from joyful pride always. When I heard it on the radio this afternoon, it was obviously very different," Alex Thornton said on Instagram. "I can't help but feel like an old, dear friend is hurting so badly."
"Thank you, Chattanooga, for always being my shelter," Anne Claire Cheatwood said on Instagram. "I hope we can all band together and be that for you this time."