Chattanooga victim had ties to Pearl River County

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, July 22, 2015

FAMILY MAN: Pictured, Smith with his wife and three daughters. Submitted photo.

FAMILY MAN: Pictured, Smith with his wife and three daughters. Submitted photo.


A shooting rampage at two military centers in Chattanooga, Tenn. resulted in the deaths of four marines and a sailor. One of the victims, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, 26, was a reservist on active duty in Chattanooga. While Smith was born in Paulding, Ohio, he had local ties to Pearl River County and surrounding areas.

Miriam Perkins, who currently lives in Bay St. Louis, only had kind things to say about her late cousin.

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“He was a very outstanding man and very well thought of by his family and friends as well as with his work partners,” Perkins said.

Several of Smith’s family members, including his late grandmother and grandfather, were originally from Carriere and McNeill respectively, Perkins said.

Smith was injured in the July 16 shooting and died as a result of his injuries at a hospital early Saturday morning. Thurday, Kuwait-born 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez of Hixson, Tenn. opened fire at a military recruiting center and then the Navy and Marine reserve center in Chattanooga, fatally shooting four marines, injuring Smith, who later died, and wounding two others before being shot by police.

Perkins said she was close to Smith when they were younger, but over the years they lost touch. About two years ago, Smith reached out to Perkins through social media, sending her a Facebook friend request.

“We got back to knowing each other hoping to one day get together,” Perkins said.

Smith enlisted in the U.S. Navy in November 2010 and lived in Georgia at the time. In 2014, he re-enlisted and transferred to Chattanooga, Tenn., along with his wife and three daughters, Perkins said.

“It’s so hard to believe,” Perkins said about the tragedy.

The other fallen U.S. Marines were Sgt. Carson Holmquist, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan and Lance Cpl. Skip Squire Wells.

Abdulazeez’ motives behind the shooting are still unclear. Prior to the shooting, he wasn’t under the radar of investigators specializing in terrorism cases. He graduated college with an engineering degree and regularly attended a local mosque but struggled with drugs, alcohol and depression.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.