Father of slain Marine: Son volunteered to help people

Published 9:26 am Monday, July 20, 2015

THORNVILLE (AP) — A Marine slain in the Chattanooga, Tennessee, shootings was scheduled to leave the reserve center where he was killed within days or weeks, his father said Sunday.

Lance Cpl. Skip Wells had volunteered for the job because he was interested in helping people, Kip Wells said at a news conference near his Buckeye Lake home in central Ohio.

Skip Wells, 21, had been texting with his girlfriend about her upcoming visit to see him in Chattanooga when the attack took place. “ACTIVE SHOOTER,” he texted in his last message.

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Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire at a military recruiting office and a Navy-Marine operations center a few miles apart on Thursday, killing four Marines and a sailor.

The sailor, Randall Smith, a 26-year-old logistics specialist in the U.S. Navy, grew up in the northwest Ohio city of Paulding.

Kip Wells said his son followed in a long family military tradition dating to his great-grandfather’s Navy service in World War II.

Kip Wells, who helped liberate Kuwait as a member of the Navy during the first Gulf War, said he found it ironic that a Kuwaiti-born person killed his son.

“We send our service people into harm’s way overseas and that tends to be when we worry about them the most,” Wells said, wearing a Marines ball cap and shirt to commemorate his son. “We don’t tend to worry so much when we’re at home. So this is more of a surprise than most people would have for a military family.”

Wells said some consideration should be given to arming some of the people who work at such centers.

“Please give these guys something, give them something just in case,” said Wells, 45, who works at a nearby factory reinforcing Humvees with armor. “If they have sentries there, arm them.”