Former Ft. Hood Commander, State Senator Reacts to Deadly Shooting
By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A former commander at Fort Hood and current Oklahoma legislator gave his insight into Thursday's deadly shooting.
State Senator Steve Russell was at Ft. Hood just a few months ago. The retired Lt. Col. served in the U.S. Army for 21 years and was a commander at Ft. Hood from 2002 to 2005.
The senator said Ft. Hood is like any other military community, but it's the largest in the nation. Ft. Hood is four times the size of Tinker Air Force Base and heavily guarded.
"Fort Hood is a very large installation, over 50,000 U.S. soldiers alone, and that's not including the support personnel, civilians, the families of soldiers," Russell said. "There is a lot of security, security at the gates, military police, contract law enforcement that's on the installation. They're really focused on external threats and people trying to get into the base."
However, Thursday's rampage was an internal threat. Still, Senator Russell said commanders are trained to react.
"They would call a high alert, and as a commander I would then lock down my unit, cut off all communications with phones and Internet, and I would call my commanders to have formations and account for every soldier," Russell said.
The senator said the part of the post where the shootings took place is often packed with soldiers. When asked how something like this could happen, Russell said it's hard to say and hard to prevent.
"When you have a soldier that has the proper credentials and has been in the military for some time, he has freedom of action. If he is set on a criminal act, and set on destruction, like this case here, it's very hard to predict," Russell said.
The senator said he still knows quite a few people down there. So far, he said he hasn't been able to get in touch with any of them.
The more than two dozen Army soldiers and National Guard members from Oklahoma stationed at Ft. Hood have been accounted for and are safe.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has declared a moment of silence for U.S. military forces worldwide as a show of respect for the Fort Hood victims.
The moment of silence is planned for 2:34 p.m. EST Friday -- exactly 24 hours after the shooting in Texas. All U.S. forces worldwide are being asked to participate in the show of respect.
A spokesman says Gates has no immediate plans to travel to Fort Hood.
Army Chief of Staff George Casey and Army Secretary John McHugh arrived at the base Friday.
State Rep. Don Armes (R-Faxon) issued the following statement Friday upon learning of the death of Tipton native Jason Dean Hunt.
"Tragedy always seems like it happens somewhere else and it is difficult when it strikes a community in your own district. Like many young men from rural Oklahoma, J.D. Hunt volunteered for military duty and those of us from western Oklahoma take pride in his service even as we mourn his loss. Love of country remains strong among rural communities like Tipton and J.D. lived out those values. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.