One of the slain victims in the July 2015 Chattanooga terror attack has been named by his family. That victim is USMC Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan. On July 16, 2015, authorities say Mohammad Youssef Abuldazeez opened fire at two military locations in Tennessee, killing four Marines and wounding three others. The suspect was later shot dead by responding officers. Sgt. Thomas Sullivan was 40 years old. The other fallen Marines from the attack have been named as Lance Corporal Skip Wells, Sgt Carson Holmquist and SSgt David Wyatt.
Here’s what you need to know about this fallen hero:
1. He Was a Purple Heart Recipient
Sullivan served in Iraq twice where he won a Purple Heart, an award for those wounded in the line of duty. According to his Facebook page, in addition to his frontline service, Sullivan graduated from the American Military University with a degree in Criminal Justice. He says on his page about his role in the Marines “IT REAL OH YOU ARE DAMN SKIPPY ITS REAL I AM A GUNNY.” Sullivan was an artillery instructor.
2. The Massachusetts Native Joined the Marines in 1997
Sullivan had joined the Marines in 1997. He is a native of Springfield, Massachusetts. According to his brother, Joe, Sullivan enlisted after graduating from Cathedral High School. Joseph Sullivan is also a military veteran. The family grew up in the East Forest Park neighborhood of Springfield. The Springfield Republican reports that Sullivan’s parents, Jerry and Betty, as well as his sister, Dianne, now live in the town of Hamden.
3. He Was Killed by Abdulazeez at the Naval Reserve Support Center
According to authorities, Abdulazeez opened fire at the Naval Reserve Support Center where Sullivan was working after the suspect had attacked a U.S. National Guard office. Reports suggest that Abdulazeez fired indiscriminately into the office where he killed Sullivan.
4. His Brother Is the Owner of the Popular Nathan Bill’s Bar in Springfield
Rest In Peace Gunnery SGT. Thomas Sullivan. Anyone who went to Holy Cross School, Cathedral High School or grew up in the East Forest Park knew who Tommy was. He was our hero and he will never be forgotten. Please keep his family & friends in your thoughts & prayers. Thank you Tommy for protecting us.
Mass Live reports that the Sullivan family were dismayed at the “sterile” document given to the family that announced Thomas Sullivan’s death. In a brief statement, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said “Terror comes home to Massachusetts. God Bless Tom Sullivan and his family and friends.”
5. Authorities Have Said that Abdulazeez Is a Kuwaiti Native Who Was a U.S. Citizen
NBC News reports that Abdulazeez is a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Kuwait. He came to the United States in 1996 with his parents.
He lived in Hixson, Tennessee, which is a community in Chattanooga, in a middle-class Muslim family.
The FBI was searching the neighborhood where his family lives:
Two women were seen being removed from the home in handcuffs, but neither was arrested.