July 23, 2015 / 10:16 PM / 4 years ago

Website linked to Tennessee shooting denies it sells guns

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The website where friends of the Tennessee shooting suspect said he had purchased guns before last week’s attack denied on Thursday that it was in the business of selling weapons, saying it instead offered “a free speech forum.”

U.S. flag flies alongside a sign in honor of the four Marines killed in Chattanooga, Tennessee July 17, 2015. REUTERS/Tami Chappell

Armslist.com posted the video statement a week after the fatal shooting of five U.S. servicemen at two military facilities in Chattanooga. It said it released the video in response to numerous media inquiries after the attack.

“We’d like to make it clear that Armslist does not sell guns,” Jonathan Gibbon, owner of the website, said in the video. “Armslist offers a free speech forum, and we routinely cooperate with law enforcement and will continue to do so in the future.”

The statement appeared on the website a day after the FBI said it knew where the suspect, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, obtained his guns but would withhold the information for now.

Armslist.com is an online listing site on which individuals can buy and sell firearms through private transactions. Critics say it enables people to obtain weapons without background checks, though the site has a disclaimer that requires users to agree to follow all state and federal firearms laws.

Two friends of Abdulazeez told Reuters on Saturday that he had purchased three guns on armslist.com after returning from a 2014 trip to Jordan. They included an AK-74, an AR-15 and a Saiga 12. They said he also owned a 9mm and a .22 caliber hand guns.

The friends spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, saying they feared a backlash.

The FBI has determined that the gunman used a single weapon to kill the four Marines and one Navy petty officer at a naval training center last Thursday, Edward Reinhold, special agent in charge of the investigation, told reporters on Wednesday. The FBI has not disclosed the type of firearms used.

The FBI still has not determined whether the suspect, a 24-year-old Muslim with a history of mental illness and marijuana use, was radicalized in the run-up to the rampage, Reinhold said.

But investigators believe Abdulazeez acted on his own on the day of the shooting, and they are treating it as an act of domestic terrorism unless proven otherwise.

Reporting by Frank McGurty; Editing by Dan Grebler

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