The shootings, which took place around 10:45 a.m. Thursday, also left three people wounded. One officer who was injured had engaged the shooter along with several other officers.
Officials did not discuss details regarding the shooter.
"Lives have been lost from some faithful people who have been serving our country, and I think I join all Tennesseans in being both sickened and saddened by this," Gov. Bill Haslam said.
Brian Lepley, a spokesman with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Ky., said his recruiters there were told by law enforcement that the shooter, who was in a car, stopped in front of the facility, shot at the building and drove off.
Sgt. 1st Class Robert Dodge, an army recruiter in Chattanooga said he was at his office when someone opened fire and he heard 30 to 50 shots.
"It's a very terrible situation," the mayor said.
U.S. President Barack Obama was briefed by his national security team on the shooting involving two military sites in Tennessee. He was in Oklahoma, speaking about criminal justice reform and visiting a federal prison.
Chattanooga State Community College said in a tweet and on its website that a shooting was confirmed near the campus and that everyone should stay inside and close doors. The campus was put on lockdown.
Loretta Blevins, head server at the Track's End Restaurant less than a kilometre down the road from the shooting site, said she was outside and heard about three gunshots.
There were about six customers in the restaurant at the time, and others walking down the street were ushered inside for safety. Police told them there was an active shooter.
"It's breathtaking when you see all the emergency vehicles and you have no idea what's going on or how close it is to you," she said.
Blevins said emergency vehicles are streaming up and down the road.
Brian Lepley, a spokesman with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command out of Fort Knox, Ky, said the recruiting centre on Old Lee Highway in Chattanooga has recruiting services for all four branches of the military.
The army recruiters told Lepley they were not hit and not injured. They have evacuated and are safe. He had no information about recruiters for the other branches.
Law enforcement told his recruiters that the shooter was in a car, stopped in front of the recruiting facility, shot at the building and drove off, he said.Suggest a correction