CHATTANOOGA, United States - A 24-year-old Kuwaiti-born man who gunned down four Marines in a deadly rampage in Tennessee was "an all-American kid" from an "average" family, shocked friends and acquaintances said Thursday.
Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, who allegedly opened fire at two US military facilities in Chattanooga before being killed in a shootout with police, apparently wrote in a blog post this week that life is "short and bitter."
But hours after his killing spree on Thursday, authorities were still piecing together a portrait of the former high school wrestler with a degree in engineering to explain why he may have turned into a cold-blooded killer.
The FBI raided Abdulazeez's home in a leafy Chattanooga suburb and vowed to use every means possible to "determine the cause or the reason why he carried out this attack." Abdulazeez - a naturalized US citizen from Kuwait, according to multiple reports citing US officials - appears to have maintained a blog, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity on social media.
In a post written Monday, he said that "this life is short and bitter" and that Muslims should not let "the opportunity to submit to allah... pass you by." The blog also makes fleeting references to sacrifice and jihad, but a short excerpt released by SITE did not contain any overt evidence of radicalization or threats.
'Friendly, funny, kind'
A woman who attended Red Bank High School with Abdulazeez said he was a quiet, well-liked student.
"He was friendly, funny, kind," Kagan Wagner told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "I never would have thought it would be him." She added that his whole family seemed normal.
"They were your average Chattanooga family," Wagner said.
A high school yearbook quote which appears to have been written by Abdulazeez, cited by local media, reads: "My name causes national security alerts. What does yours do?"
He was on the wrestling team in high school, and the Chattanooga Times Free Press said a video posted on YouTube of a 2009 ultimate fighting competition does indeed show Abdulazeez.
"I mean, he seemed like the all-American kid," Abdulazeez's mixed martial arts coach Scott Schrader told CNN, adding that he was "never loud, never boisterous, never got out of line."
Abdulazeez has been in trouble with the law recently. Local media published a mug shot of him after he was arrested for driving while under the influence in April.
He graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2012 with a degree in engineering.
His father, who shares his name, works for the city's public works department where he was appointed as a "special policeman." A Facebook page which appeared to belong to his mother - and which AFP could not independently verify - showed a cheerful photo of Abdulazeez smiling at his graduation as he hugs an elderly woman while draped in flowers and a Palestinian keffiyeh.
Another photo apparently shows him posing with his diploma in front of the US and Tennessee flags, while a third shows a cake with the words "Congratulations Mohammod Class of 2012." His mother is from Kuwait and his father is from the West Bank, according to the Facebook page.