American families, soldiers anguished by Fort Hood killings by Muslim-American soldier; Obama says no rush to conclusion….
USAfricaonline.com: American families and soldiers anguished by Fort Hood shooting by Muslim-American soldier who killed 13 others; 35 wounded; Obama says no one should jump to conclusions….
USAfricaonline.com: American families and soldiers anguished by Fort Hood shooting by Muslim-American soldier which killed 13; 35 wounded; Obama, on Friday Nov 6, 2009 cautioned: no one should jump to conclusions….
The orderly calm, spirit of unity amongst members of the armed forces and reasonable, high sense of security offered by a military post, America’s largest one in Fort Hood, near Killeen Texas, was shattered on Thursday November 5, 2009 by another soldier, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. According to a high-ranking spokesman for the military Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, Malik is in custody and hospitalized.
USAfricaonline.com relies extensively on the report below from the NBC Dallas-Fort Worth by Frank Heinz, Stacy Morrow and Lita Beck/NBC-DFW:
A military mental health doctor who faced overseas deployment allegedly went on a shooting rampage at the Fort Hood Army Post near Killeen, killing 13 people and wounding 30 others before he was shot by civilian police, Army officials said Thursday.
ABOUT FORT HOOD
Fort Hood is the largest active duty armored post in the United States, and is the only post in the United States that is capable of supporting two complete armored divisions. The cantonment area of Fort Hood is adjacent to Killeen and the “Hill and Lake” country of Texas. The post is home to about 5,000 active duty officers and 45,000 enlisted. Civilian employees total nearly 9,000, MSNBC.com reports.
The death toll from the shooting climbed to 13 after a military official told The Associated Press early Friday that one of the injured had passed away.
Although authorities said immediately after the shootings that the man accused in the incident was killed, Lt. Gen. Robert Cone said Thursday night that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was in custody and was hospitalized. He was on a ventilator and unconscious, the AP reported.
Cone offered little explanation as for why authorities reported Hasan had been killed, saying there was confusion at the hospital.
“His death is not imminent,” he said.
Col. Ben Danner said Hasan was shot at least four times and was in critical condition.
Hasan, a 39-year-old man from Virginia, was shot multiple times by Sgt. Kimberly Munley, a police officer who was injured in the shooting, Cone said in a Friday morning press conference. Military officials said Munley was in stable condition Friday.
Cone said that investigators can’t rule out the possibility that terrorism was involved but “the evidence does not suggest that.”
The shootings took place at the post’s Soldier Readiness Center (SRC). Nearly three dozen other people who suffered various injuries were transported to central Texas hospitals. None of the injured were believed to be children.
Two other soldiers were arrested after the rampage, but were released later, Fort Hood spokesman Christopher Haug told the AP. He said they are not believed to be involved in the incident.
“We believe the evidence indicates that it was a single shooter,” Cone said.
The first shooting took place at the SRC, Bldg 42000 at 75th and Battalion Avenue, at about 1:30 p.m., according to Army officials.
Cone said in a press conference Thursday night that “there was no indication” that the weapons used in the shootings were military weapons. Soldiers at the post do not carry weapons unless they are doing training exercises or something of that nature, he said.
“This is our home,” Cone said. “So we do have security guards that are here — the MPs and the Department of the Army civilian police, but soldiers on Fort Hood do not carry weapons.”
He said initial reports indicate that Hasan had two handguns, one of which was a semiautomatic weapon.
The SRC is where soldiers begin the process of vaccinations and other preparation prior to deployment. A graduation ceremony for soldiers who finished college courses while deployed was going on in an auditorium at the Readiness Center at the time of the shooting, said Sgt. Rebekah Lampam, a Fort Hood spokeswoman.
Greg Schanepp, U.S. Rep. John Carter’s regional director in Texas, was at Fort Hood, said John Stone, a spokesman for the congressman whose district includes the Army post. Schanepp was at a graduation ceremony when a soldier who had been shot in the back came running toward him and alerted him of the shooting, Stone said. The soldier told Schanepp not to go in the direction of the shooter, he said.
The post was locked down for about five hours after the shootings.
A spokesperson for Metroplex Hospital in Killeen told NBC News it received seven patients: five male and two female.
One of the men died at the hospital, and a man and a woman were still in surgery Thursday afternoon. Two of the patients were members of the military, and five were civilians.
Three other men were airlifted to Seton Medical Center in Austin. One woman was transported by ground ambulance to Scott & White Hospital in Temple. Scott & White and the American Red Cross have put out a call asking for blood donors. Find out more here.
Cone said the victims were from “a number of units” across the post, because Thursday was a make-up day in which people from across the installation were at the SRC going through the readiness process.
None of the victims, surviving or deceased, have been identified.
A defense official speaking on condition of anonymity told the AP that Hasan is an Army psychiatrist who is single and has no children. Hasan had worked at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for six years before he was transferred to Fort Hood in July, Washington military officials told the AP.
Hasan received a poor performance evaluation while at Walter Reed, officials told the AP on condition of anonymity, because military records are confidential. Federal law enforcement officials also said Hasan had come to their attention at least six months ago because of Internet postings that discussed suicide bombings and other threats.
The postings, one of which is a blog that equates suicide bombers with a soldier throwing himself on a grenade to save the lives of his comrades, appeared to have been made by Hasan, officials said.
“To say that this soldier committed suicide is inappropriate. It’s more appropriate to say he is a brave hero that sacrificed his life for a more noble cause,” said the Internet posting. “Scholars have paralled (sic) this to suicide bombers whose intention, by sacrificing their lives, is to help save Muslims by killing enemy soldiers.”
The officials said they are still trying to confirm that Hasan authored the postings, and an official investigation was not opened.
Authorities have not yet identified a possible motive for the rampage.
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said the Army major was about to deploy overseas, but it was unclear if he was headed to Iraq or Afghanistan and when he was scheduled to leave. Hutchison said she was told about the upcoming deployment by generals based at Fort Hood.
“We are shocked and saddened by the terrible events at Fort Hood today,” his cousin, Nadar Hasan, said in a statement issued on behalf of their family. “We send the families of the victims our most heartfelt sympathies.”
OBAMA BRIEFED, DELIVERS REMARKS ON SHOOTING
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama was being kept updated throughout the afternoon as details about the shooting emerged. Gibbs said he told Obama about TV news reports that seven people were dead at the Texas military location and others were injured. Gibbs said he informed Obama based on broadcast reports, and that the president was being kept up-to-date through the White House Situation Room.
Obama asked Americans to keep the people at Fort Hood in their thoughts and prayers.
“It’s difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas,” Obama said. “It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil.
“My immediate prayers are with the wounded and with the families of the fallen and with those who live and serve at Fort Hood. These are men and women who have made the selfless and courage decision to risk, and at times, give their lives to protect the rest of us on a daily basis.”
A TRAGIC REMINDER
As the tragic event began to unfold it became a sharp reminder of the violence felt in that part of the state over the past 30 years.
“Unfortunately this is a day we had dreaded, we are in an emergency situation,” said Hilary Shine, with the city of Killeen. “Every time you hear of a mass casualty situation in Killeen you think of Luby’s and 26 people were killed. Here in city hall, it’s panic. We all have friends and family members who work or have business on Fort Hood.”
“We know the terrible impact and not knowing how it will end is gut wrenching right now,” said Shine. “Fort Hood is set up as its own city, they have their own fire, police, SWAT — they have not requested police assistance from Killeen but they have asked for EMT and ambulance assistance.”
Fort Hood has seen other violence in recent years. In September 2008, a 21-year-old 1st Cavalry Division soldier shot his lieutenant to death and then killed himself. Spc. Jody Michael Wirawan of Eagle River, Alaska. shot himself to death after killing 1st Lt. Robert Bartlett Fletcher, 24, of Jensen Beach, Fla.