Chattanooga Shooter Battled Depression and Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Family Says

Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez is accused of killing five military service members

Photo: Mary Cabell Kelly

The 24-year-old man who is accused of killing five military service members in Chattanooga, Tennessee, allegedly suffered from depression.

Little is known about the motives of Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, who died during Thursday’s attack. But a family representative says Abdulazeez struggled with depression and also battled drug and alcohol abuse – and his family says those demons must be to blame for the shootings.

“They do not know of anything else to explain it,” the family representative told the Associated Press. Abdulazeez even spent time in Jordan last year to get himself cleaned up, the representative says. But he had lapses earlier this year, getting arrested for drunken driving and losing a job over a failed drug test.

“He was medicated like many children are. Through high school and college he did a better job sometimes than others staying with it,” the representative said.

A neighbor who lived just a few streets over from the family told PEOPLE last week that Abdulazeez seemed like a “normal kid.”

“He was polite, he never acted up,” the neighbor, whose son wrestled against Abdulazeez in high school, said. “He was just a normal high school kid.”

Four Marines were killed on Thursday, while a fifth service member died from his injuries on Saturday.

In a statement, the family offered their prayers for the victims.

“We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the honorable service members and police officers who were victims of the shooting our son committed on Thursday in Chattanooga, Tennessee – our community, and one we have loved for over twenty-five years,” the family said.

“The person who committed this horrible crime was not the son we knew and loved.”

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