Ft. Hood Massacre Most Deadly Ever On U.S. Military Base
From Staff and Wire Reports
KILLEEN, TEXAS -- A military mental health doctor facing deployment overseas opened fire at the Fort Hood Army post on Thursday, setting off on a rampage that killed 13 people and left 28 wounded, Army officials said.
Authorities said immediately after the shootings that they had killed the suspected shooter, but later in the evening they recanted and said that he was alive and in stable condition at a
hospital, watched by a guard.
"His death is not imminent," said Lt. Gen. Bob Cone at Fort Hood. He offered little explanation for the mistake, other than to say there was confusion at the hospital.
The shooting suspect was identified as Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old from Virginia. Hasan was shot four times and was in critical condition, according to Col. Ben Danner.
The shooter used two pistols, one of them semiautomatic. Three other people were questioned in the shooting but were released. Authorities believe there was a single shooter.
Lt. Col. Max Moss of the Oklahoma National Guard says seven of nine Guard members at Fort Hood are part of the Warrior Transition Unit, which helps injured soldiers receive medical services. Moss says the other two are assigned to a training detachment.
Fort Sill public affairs officer Nancy Elliott said 19 soldiers from the Oklahoma post and now at Fort Hood had been accounted for and are safe.
"I was confused and just shocked," said Spc. Jerry Richard, 27, who works at the center but was not on duty during the shooting.
"Overseas you are ready for it. But here you can't even defend yourself."
Soldiers at Fort Hood don't carry weapons unless they are doing training exercises.
No other shooting at a military base in the U.S. has been as deadly as Thursday's.
A law enforcement official said Hasan was an Army psychologist or psychiatrist. It was not known whether he was treating people at the base.
Federal law enforcement officials said the Hasan had come to their attention at least six months ago because of Internet postings that discussed suicide bombings and other threats. One of the Web postings that authorities reviewed is a blog that equates suicide bombers with a soldier throwing himself on a grenade to save the lives of his comrades.The officials say they are still trying to confirm that he was the author. They said an official investigation was not opened.
An Army spokesman at the Pentagon said the shootings began about 1:30 p.m. Thursday at a soldier readiness processing center at Fort Hood. The center is used as a last minute readiness facility for paperwork, medical and dental work before soldiers deploy.
"It's a terrible tragedy. It's stunning...it's been absolutely devastating," Lt. Gen. Cone said. He expressed his condolences to the soldiers, family members and post personnel, and said he is grateful for the support from the surrounding community.
Army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Banks said it is too soon to tell whether there is any link to the shooting of battle stress or repeated deployments. The Army is suffering a record high suicide rate and other signs of stress from fighting two wars.
The FBI sent agents to the scene. Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange said Texas Rangers and state troopers were sent to Fort Hood to help seal the perimeter of the 108,000 acre base.
President Barack Obama called the mass shooting "a horrific outburst of violence."
"We will make sure that we get answers to every single question about this horrible incident," the Commander in Chief said. "We are going to stay on this."
He said it's a tragedy to lose a soldier overseas and even more horrifying when they come under fire at an Army post on American soil.
Obama also said his thoughts and prayers are with the wounded and families of the fallen.
Elliott expects Fort Hood to put out a casualty report, but not until families of service members are notified. At that time, the casualties' hometowns would be released.
Fort Sill did not tighten security, because there is no indication this is a national security danger, Elliott said. Ft. Hood has not requested extra assistance from the Oklahoma Army post.
Fort Sill Lt. Colonel Kevin Gregory released the following statement in regards to Thursday's shooting:
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to our fellow Soldiers and their families at Fort Hood. Our Soldiers and civilians currently serving at Fort Hood in a temporary status are accounted for and safe. We take our force protection very serious and as always we remain vigilant in order to protect the Soldiers, Families and civilians working and living on our installation. We standby ready to assist Fort Hood if called."
Covering 339 square miles, Fort Hood is the largest active duty armored post in the United States. Home to about 52,000 troops as of earlier this year, the sprawling base is located halfway between Austin and Waco.