On Wednesday, President Barack Obama ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff at the White House and federal buildings across America to honor the victims of last week’s shooting rampage in Chattanooga, Tenn., after a growing majority of Americans called for him to act. Many Americans are still surprised at just how long it took for him to act.
In a message issued early Tuesday afternoon, Obama addressed the Chattanooga victims,
“We honor their service. We offer our gratitude to the police officers and first responders who stopped the rampage and saved lives. We draw strength from yet another American community that has come together with an unmistakable message to those who would try and do us harm: We do not give in to fear. You cannot divide us. And you will not change our way of life.”
The less than heart-felt message came almost a week after the tragedy as Americans from all walks of life condemned Obama for his silence.
In his proclamation, Obama ordered flags flown at half-staff at the White House and “all public buildings and grounds,” as well as over military posts and naval stations and vessels until July 25. Flags will also be flown at half-staff at U.S. embassies and other overseas diplomatic offices.
His decision came after leaders in Congress ordered flags at the U.S. Capitol lowered to half-staff earlier on Wednesday. That decision seemed to fan the flames and fueled questions over why the White House hadn’t yet done the same.
“Last week, five brave service members were murdered in a terror attack in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Out of respect for their courageous service and sacrifice to our nation, flags at the U.S. Capitol are being lowered to half-staff,” Speaker of The House, John Boehner said in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also released a statement, in which said, “[T]he U.S. Senate’s thoughts are with their families and loved ones, and with all those who protect us here, and around the world.”
The shooting began at around 11 a.m. at U.S. Naval Recruiting on Lee Highway, where a white male suspect is believed to have fired in rapid succession for a period of minutes, then sped away in a silver Mustang.
Smith said the suspect then drove about seven minutes to the U.S. Naval Reserve Center on Amnicola Highway. That’s where it’s believed that a police officer and four Marines were shot.
A Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter heard two shots fired in the nearby woods, where it’s believed that the shooter was taken down.