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Marine killed in Tennessee attacks was Iraq war vet

Thomas Sullivan was a member of the India Battery 3rd Battalion 12th Marines

(Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

NBC Washington – CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WSLS 10) - One of the Marines killed in Thursday's attacks on two military centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has been identified as a decorated Iraq War veteran from Massachusetts.

Forty-year-old Sgt. Thomas Sullivan grew up in the East Forest Park section of Springfield. His brother and grandmother confirmed Sullivan's death in posts to their Facebook pages, NBC News reported.

Sullivan's family told The Springfield Republican that he served two tours of duty in Iraq and earned a Purple Heart. According to his Facebook profile, Sullivan had served in the Marines since 1997 after graduating from high school.

His parents live in Hamden.

In a statement, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said Sullivan's death "is a tragic loss not just for the Springfield community, but for our entire nation."

Nathan Bill's Bar & Restaurant, which is owned by Sullivan's brother, paid tribute to the Marine on its Facebook page.

"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," the post said.

John Bobrowski, a professional window washer in Springfield, stopped by the restaurant Friday to clean the windows of the business.

He did not know the family but said he wanted "in my own way" to give his condolences to them over their tragic loss.

"I was on my way to the next job site and I felt that I wanted to come in and pay it forward," he told necn.

Three other Marines were killed and a Navy sailor was critically injured in the attacks. The gunman, 24-year-old Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, was killed in a shootout with law enforcement during the attacks, which started at a Marine recruiting station and ended seven miles away at a Marine and Naval reserve center, where the soldiers were killed, according to authorities.

A motive in the attack was unclear but the FBI is investigating a blog that may provide some clues. According to the SITE Intelligence Group, Abdulazeez posted three days before the rampage that "life is short and bitter" and the Muslims should not let "the opportunity to submit to Allah ... pass you by." The blog has not been confirmed by NBC News. Law enforcement officials said there are "indications" it may have been ISIS-inspired, but declined to be specific.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has ordered all flags at half staff beginning at sunrise Friday.

In a statement, Baker said, "The senseless violence that occurred in Tennessee is a terrible tragedy made worse by the fact that the brave individuals whose lives were taken answered the call to serve and protect our nation. Today, our hearts and prayers are with the wounded as we wish them a full recovery and our hearts are with the loved ones left behind by the heart breaking loss of four American patriots."

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security is stepping up patrols at certain federal facilities. In Massachusetts, according to The Boston Herald, local and state police as well as the National Guard are remaining alert to any threats.

However, the National Guard tells necn protection measures remain in effect following standard procedures at this time.

The Herald says Boston police officers are being reminded to be vigilant while going about their work.

A Massachusetts National Guard spokesperson told the paper they are reminding their staff to be aware of their surroundings at all times. There are more than a dozen recruitment centers in the state and they are open to the public.

As for state police, they tell the Herald troopers are looking at all intelligence for possible or credible threats here and have not detected any at this time.