It has been two years since the July 16 terrorist attack in Chattanooga.
Two years since 24-year-old Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez assaulted two military sites in the city, killing Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist; Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan; Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt and Lance Cpl. Squire K. "Skip" Wells, all Marines, and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall J. Smith.
The 2015 attack began just before 11 a.m. when the gunman opened fire on the armed forces recruiting center on Lee Highway, injuring Marine recruiter Sgt. DeMonte Cheeley. After firing for almost a full minute, he sped off toward the U.S. Naval and Marine Reserve Center on Amnicola Highway.
There he smashed through a gate with his car and jumped out with an assault rifle, a handgun and numerous rounds of ammunition. He entered the building, firing at anyone he encountered. Service members ran from door to door inside, ushering people out of the building to safety.
Less than 10 terrifying minutes after he first fired on the Lee Highway recruiting center, Abdulazeez lay dead, shot by Chattanooga police who flooded the scene. The families of those who were killed, and the community at large, were left to pick up the pieces, shocked and grief-stricken.
For two years, Chattanooga has grappled with how to respond to an unthinkable tragedy.
In that time, a twofold communal mission has emerged: To ensure the lives and sacrifices of those five men are not forgotten, and to ensure such a thing cannot happen here ever again.
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