A Sarasota Fla., resident started a petition yesterday asking President Barack Obama to honor the men who fired their personal weapons at a lone gunman who attacked two military sites in Chattanooga on July 16.
The petition, which has 578 signatures so far, asks Obama to give the men who fired medals of bravery for saving lives during the attack.
Investigators with the FBI confirmed that at least one service member inside the U.S. Naval and Marine Reserve Center on Amnicola Highway used a personal weapon to shoot at Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez as the 24-year-old approached the building armed with an assault rife and handgun two weeks ago today.
Abdulazeez would go on to kill four Marines and a Navy specialist.
The attack sparked a national debate about whether military personnel should be armed in military buildings on United States soil. Currently, Department of Defense regulations prohibit most service members from being armed on in the U.S., including most personnel at reserves and recruiting centers like the ones Abdulazeez targeted in Chattanooga.
Only service members who are acting as military police or guards are allowed to carry weapons.
But in the days after the attacks, politicians and citizens immediately called for a change in policy to allow such service members to be armed. Gov. Bill Haslam ordered the state's National Guard storefront centers to temporarily relocate into armories six days after the shooting.
After confirming that two personal guns were found in the reserve and that one had been fired, FBI special agent Ed Reinhold declined to say whether the men who fired were authorized to carry the weapons they used.
The petition, filed on the White House website, must reach at least 100,000 signatures by Aug. 28 in order to get a response from the White House.
Read tomorrow's Times Free Press for complete details on this developing story.