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By Michael Muskal, Christina Littlefield, Christine Mai-Duc and Julie Westfall, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

A shooting at a military reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, left four Marines dead and three people injured, including a police officer, officials announced Thursday.

The gunman was also killed, officials said. The FBI identified him as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez.

The deadly attack was preceded by a shooting at a nearby military recruiting center, where no one was injured.

“This is a sad day for the United States,” William C. “Bill” Killian, U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Tennessee, said at a news conference. “These service members served their country with pride, and they have been the victims of these shootings.”

Killian said the shootings were being treated as an act of domestic terrorism, but he later backed away from that label.

An FBI official said authorities will investigate the shooter’s motive to determine whether terror was the intent. “We will treat this as a terrorist investigation until it can be determined it is not,” Special Agent in Charge Edward W. Reinhold said.

The first shooting took place about 10:45 a.m., and both shootings were over within about 30 minutes, Reinhold said.

A federal law enforcement official described the shooter as a white man who pulled up in a gray Ford Mustang convertible with its top down, jumped out and “almost instantly” started firing. The shooter was heavily armed with multiple weapons, said the official, who asked not to be named because he or she was not permitted to speak about the investigation. The official does not believe the shooter worked at either of the military centers, but said the shooter might have lived nearby.

Officials said the police officer who was injured was pursuing the suspect from the first shooting at a recruiting center on Lee Highway and engaged a man at the scene of the second shooting, the reserve center on Amnicola Highway, about a five-minute drive away.

The officer was shot in the ankle, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said.

One of the victims who was injured is in critical condition, according to Chattanooga police.

The victims’ names have not been released.

In the first shooting, recruiters reported seeing a vehicle pull up in front of the center, shots being fired at the building and then the vehicle driving away, said Brian Lepley, spokesman for the Army Recruiting Command out of Fort Knox, Kentucky.

It is unclear how many shots were fired or what damage the building sustained.

Four Army recruiters were in the building at the time, Lepley said, adding that they were not injured and had been evacuated from the center. Recruiting officers have been trained to react to threats since the 2009 shooting at a recruiting office in Little Rock, Arkansas, he said.

The center recruits for all four armed services, he said.

“We are working closely with the U.S. Navy and local and federal law enforcement to determine exactly what happened today in Chattanooga,” said Maj. Paul L. Greenberg, a Marine spokesman.

Earlier, Berke had tweeted that there was a “horrific incident in our community. We will release details as they are confirmed. Prayers to all those affected.”

Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga “received some people” after the shootings, a spokeswoman said. She did not provide more details.

Nic Donohue, a computer technician at Desktop Solutions, which is three doors away from the recruiting center on Lee, heard some of the shots.

“At first, I had music playing in the background so I wasn’t able to clearly discern what was going on. I thought it could’ve been really loud banging at the front door, so I turned off the music,” the 24-year-old said.

“It was a couple seconds later that I heard the second grouping of shots,” he said. “In the back of your head, you really don’t want to believe that it is gunfire and something dangerous is going on.”

Donohue said he stayed in the back during the shooting, which is walled off and not visible through the store’s glass windows and doors, and tried to keep busy with repairs. A couple of minutes later, he went to the front of the store and saw police and emergency vehicles had arrived, he said.

Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., and Chattanooga State Community College in Chattanooga went into lockdown amid the reports, but Lee University quickly lifted its alert. Chattanooga State, which is about a mile from the reserve center, lifted its lockdown later; the main campus is to remain closed for the rest of the day.

In Cleveland, Tenn., about 30 miles from Chattanooga, Bradley Square Mall went into automatic shutdown after the shootings because of a Tennessee National Guard recruiting center in the building, said the mall’s general manager, Stacia Crye-Shahan.

People at the recruiting center thought they heard shots fired and called 911, and police searched the building she said.

“There’s no evidence of shots fired, and no one was injured here, so we are very thankful for that,” Crye-Shahan said.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it had agents responding to the shooting, and a White House spokesman said President Barack Obama had been briefed on the situation.

(Tribune Washington Bureau staff writer Richard A. Serrano contributed to this report.)

Photo: A Chattanooga policeman holds a high-powered assault rifle outside the Reserve Recruitment Center at Highway 153 and Lee Highway on Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press/TNS)

President Trump and former Vice President Biden at first 2020 presidential debate

Screenshot from C-Span YouTube

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Donald Trump is claiming that he will still debate despite the rule change that will cut off the candidates' microphones while their opponent delivers his initial two-minute response to each of the debate's topics. But everything else Trump and his campaign are saying sounds like they're laying the groundwork to back out.

"I will participate," Trump told reporters Monday night. "But it's very unfair that they changed the topics and it's very unfair that again we have an anchor who's totally biased." At his Arizona rally Monday, Trump attacked moderator Kristen Welker as a "radical Democrat" and claimed she had "deleted her entire account," which is false. Trump's campaign manager, Bill Stepien, went further in his whining about the debate.

Stepien touted a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates as "Our letter to the BDC (Biden Debate Commission)." That letter came before the CPD announced that it would mute microphones for portions of the debate in response to Trump's constant interruptions at the first debate, though Stepien knew such a decision was likely coming, writing, "It is our understanding from media reports that you will soon be holding an internal meeting to discuss other possible rule changes, such as granting an unnamed person the ability to shut off a candidate's microphone. It is completely unacceptable for anyone to wield such power, and a decision to proceed with that change amounts to turning further editorial control of the debate over to the Commission which has already demonstrated its partiality to Biden."

Shooooot, here I thought it was generous to Trump that the microphones will only be cut to give each candidate two uninterrupted minutes, leaving Trump the remainder of each 15-minute debate segment to interrupt.

But what did Stepien mean by "other possible rule changes," you ask? What was the first rule change? Well, it wasn't one. Stepien wrote to strongly complain that "We write with great concern over the announced topics for what was always billed as the 'Foreign Policy Debate' in the series of events agreed to by both the Trump campaign and the Biden campaign many months ago." Welker's announced topics include "Fighting COVID-19, American families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security, and Leadership," Stepien complained, using this as a launching pad to attack Biden on foreign policy.

Except this debate was never billed as a foreign policy debate. It's true that in past years, the third debate has sometimes focused on foreign policy, but here in 2020, the CPD's original announcement of debate formats and moderators said of the third debate, "The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate," and the first debate "will be divided into six segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator."

So even before the CPD finalized the decision to prevent Trump from interrupting for two minutes in each of six segments, so 12 minutes out of a 90-minute debate, Team Trump was falsely complaining that the debate was rigged. No wonder—as a Biden campaign spokesman noted, the Trump campaign is upset "because Donald Trump is afraid to face more questions about his disastrous Covid response."

Trump has lost one debate and backed out of one debate. If he goes into this one with the attitude he's showing now—attacking the moderator, attacking the topics, enraged that he can't interrupt for two entire minutes at a time—he's going to lose this one, badly, once again hurting his already weak reelection prospects. So which will it be? Back out and have that be the story, or alienate one of the largest audiences of the entire presidential campaign by showing what kind of person he is?