With more than 30 FBI agents due to arrive today in Chattanooga, a diary belonging to the gunman and FBI interviews with his parents paint a picture of a disturbed, suicidal young man using drugs, preparing for bankruptcy and facing an appearance in criminal court, according to a representative of the shooter’ s family.
Four days after the shooting, the FBI has not found any connection to overseas terrorist groups, but Mohammod Abdulazeez’s diary says that as far back as 2013, he wrote about having suicidal thoughts and “becoming a martyr” after losing his job due to his drug use, both prescription and non-prescription drugs, the family representative said.
In a downward spiral, Abdulazeez would abuse sleeping pills, opioids, painkillers and marijuana, along with alcohol, the representative said.
Most recently, the 24-year-old was having problems dealing with a 12 hour overnight shift, and had to take sleeping pills, according to the representative. The young man was also thousands of dollars in debt and considering filing for bankruptcy.
Three months before the shooting, Abdulazeez was arrested on April 20–a day celebrated annually by marijuana users–and charged with drunk driving. The arresting officer noted a smell of marijuana in the car.
On Wednesday, Abdulazeez shot and killed four Marines and fatally wounded a Navy sailor after opening fire on two unguarded military facilities in Chattanooga.
The family representative said Sunday that the family told the FBI there were no outward signs of radicalization but added Abdulazeez “was susceptible to bad influences” and would be affected by watching news accounts of “children being killed in Syria.” For all his struggles with drugs, the representative said, Abdulazeez also struggled with being a devout Muslim.
The family representative said Abdulazeez’s family sought, without success, to get him treatment for his mental illness, and to keep him away from a group of friends with whom he would drink and smoke marijuana.
A seven-month trip to Jordan last year was an effort to “get him away from bad influences in the U.S.,” not part of a path to radicalization, the family told agents.
Abdulazeez’s family released a statement Saturday saying that there are “no words to describe our shock, horror, and grief.”
Still, for the FBI, the psychological profile of the disturbed young man does not explain why he chose two U.S. military targets, seven miles apart, for his deadly mission.