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Vice President Biden, Defense Secretary Attend Memorial For 5 Servicemen

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Posted at 10:55 PM, Aug 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-08 04:48:00-04

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter were among officials attending a memorial for four Marines and a sailor who were killed in attacks at two military facilities in Chattanooga last month.

Those killed were Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith and four Marines: Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Sgt. Carson Holmquist, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan and Lance Cpt. Squire "Skip" Wells, who just moments before had texted his girlfriend in Savannah the words "ACTIVE SHOOTER."

The July 16 rampage began when 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez opened fire on a military recruiting center before driving his rented Mustang about 7 miles across town to a reserve center, crashing through the gates and killing the servicemen. Abdulazeez died in a shootout with police.

Carter said at the memorial that the shooter's motivations remained unclear.

He added officials may never know "what combination of disturbed mind, violent extremism and hateful ideology was at work."

The FBI has not been able to determine whether Abdulazeez was "radicalized" before the July 16 attacks, and they have been treating him as a homegrown violent extremist.

Ash has called for a review of domestic security procedures for military installations to better protect. He said the "hard fist of justice" will reach anyone who tries to harm Americans.

Also attending Saturday's memorial were U.S. Senator Bob Corker, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. 

(Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)