Navy Petty Officer Randall Scott Smith, 26, of Paulding, Ohio, joined the Navy in 2010 and served as a logistics specialist. He died surrounded by family members two days after the shooting.
“It's hard to understand how somebody can hurt somebody that is serving for you, for your freedom, for your safety,” Smith's mother, Paula Proxmire, told News Channel 15 in Fort Wayne, Ind., after her son was shot.
Darlene Proxmire, Smith's step-grandmother, described him as a standout baseball player who received a scholarship to play in college. He had not been deployed oversees, she said. Family members said he was married with three daughters.
“He was a very good young man,” she said. “He loved the Navy.”
Tania Daugherty, Smith's second cousin, said he lived in Ohio before entering the service, and was transferred to Chattanooga recently after reenlisting.
In an interview with the local TV station, Darlene Proxmire noted that such attacks could happen anywhere.
“You think, 'Oh, that's not gonna happen' to your family — but by God, it can,” she said.
In a statement made on Twitter, Ohio's Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, offered his condolences. “Ohio has lost another hero,” he said.
According to the Navy, Smith was a surface warfare specialist, and had received the Navy “E” Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal and Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon.