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Motive In Chattanooga Shooting Unclear As Security Remains Tight In NYC

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Security continues to remain tight near military recruiting stations in New York City following Thursday's shooting at a recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tennessee that left four Marines dead.

The NYPD said additional officers were sent to the recruitment stations and other sensitive locations across the city, though authorities said there have been no specific threats in New York.

"We have been in regular contact with Tennessee authorities, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and the intelligence community," NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller said.

At the military recruiting center in Times Square, recruiters told CBS2's Janelle Burrell off camera that despite what happened in Tennessee, they feel extremely safe.

This as teams from the NYPD Emergency Service Unit carry high-power machine guns and patrol officers with K-9s stand guard outside.

The threat of terrorism or an attack is a constant concern for some living in the city, including Kimball Hinton, a tour bus employee in Times Square.

"That's always in the back of my mind, always in the back of my mind, especially around here," Hinton said.

The extra show of force at least makes Hinton feel better protected, though he's still very concerned, Burrell reported.

"Hopefully it's a deterrent to the point where people look and say 'hey, I better not act so crazy.' But I don't know when someone is hell-bent on doing something stupid. It's almost like, what can you do?" he said.

Authorities identified the Chattanooga gunman as Kuwait-born Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, of Hixson, Tennessee, though the spelling of his first name was in dispute, with federal officials and records giving at least four variations.

Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez
Authorities said Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez killed four Marines in Chattanooga. (Credit: CBS2)

Federal authorities have not yet identified a motive for the shooting but said they are investigating the possibility it was an act of terrorism. They say there is no evidence yet that anyone else was involved or that the public is in any danger.

"We have no idea what his motivation was behind the shooting," said FBI agent Ed Reinhold.

Authorities have been processing three separate crimes scenes in Chattanooga as four families deal with unimaginable loss.

"It is a heartbreaking circumstance for these individuals who served our country with great valor to be killed in this fashion," President Barack Obama said Thursday.

The shootings took place minutes apart, with the gunman stopping his car and spraying dozens of bullets first at a recruiting center for all branches of the military, then driving to a Navy-Marine training center 7 miles away, authorities and witnesses said. The attacks were over within a half-hour.

In addition to the Marines killed, three people were reported wounded, including a sailor who was seriously hurt.

"Lives have been lost from some faithful people who have been serving our country, and I think I join all Tennesseans in being both sickened and saddened by this,'' Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said.

Security Remains Tight In NYC

A U.S. official said there was no indication Abdulazeez was on the radar of federal law enforcement before the shootings. The official was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Authorities would not say publicly how the gunman died, but the U.S. official said investigators believe Chattanooga police fired the shot that killed him. At least one military commander at the scene also fired at the gunman with his personal weapon, but forensic investigators determined that police killed him, the official said.

Within hours of the bloodshed, law officers with guns drawn swarmed what was believed to be Abdulazeez's house and two females were led away in handcuffs.

The U.S. National Counterterrorism Center said it has seen nothing so far to connect Abdulazeez to any terrorist organization, but intelligence officials are monitoring the investigation closely. The Islamic State group has been encouraging extremists to carry out attacks in the U.S., and several such homegrown acts or plots have unfolded in recent months.

The names of the dead were not immediately released. In addition to the wounded sailor, a Marine was hit in the leg but not seriously hurt, and a police officer was shot in the ankle, authorities said.

Little is known about Abdulazeez. According to the FBI, he was born in Kuwait, but was a naturalized U.S. citizen, living in Tennessee with his family.

"We'll look at his friends, family, associates," Reinhold said. "Anybody who associated with him to determine the cause or the reason why he conducted this attack."

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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