Locals working near military recruitment offices react to Tenn. shootings

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - People working near local military recruiting centers reacted to Thursday's deadly attack on military personnel in Tennessee.

Authorities say the man who shot and killed four U.S. Marines on Thursday at a Marine-Navy Reserve Base made a nearby military recruiting office located in a strip mall his first target by opening fire on the building.

Like Chattanooga, there are military recruiting centers wedged between other businesses in strip malls in metro New Orleans and surrounding areas. Some people working in the strip malls said Friday it never crossed their minds that a recruiting office would become a target.

"It's going to cross my mind," said Larry Siegel who manages a window business in a Metairie shopping center.

On the west bank, Peter Pham's auto repair business sits on the edge of the strip mall where the military recruitment center is located.

"They, sometimes they need help and we can help them," Pham said of the military personnel.

The feds said the probe in the Tennessee shootings is being handled as a terrorism investigation. Still, Pham was not especially concerned that someone could target the recruitment center near his business.

"We're feeling here, right here and now, we're feeling safety," Pham stated.

"Anytime you take one life, it's tragic, it's bad news," said Siegel. "It seems like it's accelerating in the last few years, so it's a little bit of copy-cat there, there's so many other things I've got to worry about in life, this is the least of them."

"If you set up a TSA-type atmosphere for recruiting stations, I think they win. I think you start taking away the freedoms that are offered here," said Westwego Police Chief Dwayne Munch, who served in the Marines. "It's always heartbreaking for a marine to hear another marine died in what we call the line of duty."

And while those inside military recruiting offices normally are in uniform, they are prohibited from carrying weapons.

"I think we need to arm them just like we do our law enforcement, not to go out and enforce the laws, but just to protect themselves because they are a target," Munch stated.

Security is always tight at local military posts like Jackson Barracks in the Lower Ninth Ward.

La. National Guard spokesman Col. Pete Schneider said Friday that given the tragedy in Tennessee, they are reviewing security procedures.

Some local civilians think extra precautions are in order.

"We need a lot of people to watch out," said Pham.

"A free society has to live with the consequences as well," said Siegel.

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