US army post shooting rampage leaves 13 dead

Author: AP

The suspected shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, was on a ventilator and
unconscious in a hospital after being shot four times during the shootings
at the Army’s sprawling Fort Hood, post officials said. In the early chaos
after the shootings, authorities believed they had killed him, only to
discover later that he had survived.

In Washington, a senior US official said authorities at Fort Hood initially
thought one of the victims who had been shot and killed was the shooter. The
mistake resulted in a delay of several hours in identifying Hasan as the
alleged assailant.

Authorities have not ruled out that Hasan was acting on behalf of some
unidentified radical group, the official said. He would not say whether any
evidence had come to light to support that theory.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters that were
under investigation.

Officials are not ruling out the possibility that some of the casualties may
have been victims of “friendly fire,” that in the mayhem and
confusion at the shooting scene some of the responding military officials
may have shot some of the victims.

The gunfire broke out around 1:30 p.m. at the Soldier Readiness Center, where
soldiers who are about to be deployed or who are returning undergo medical
screening. Nearby, some soldiers were readying to head into a graduation
ceremony for troops and families who had recently earned degrees.

Pastor Greg Schannep had just parked his car along the side of the theater and
was about to head into the ceremony when a man in uniform approached him.

“Sir, they are opening fire over there!” the man told him. At first,
he thought it was a training exercise ? then heard three volleys and saw
people running. As the man who warned him about the shots ran away, he could
see the man’s back was bloodied from a wound.

Schannep said police and medical and other emergency personnel were on the
scene in an instant, telling people to get inside the theater. The post went
into lockdown while a search began for a suspect and emergency workers began
trying to treat the wounded. Some soldiers rushed to treat their injured
colleagues by ripping their uniforms into makeshift bandages to treat their

Fort Hood Lt. Gen. Bob Cone praised the soldiers for their quick reaction.

“God bless these soldiers,” Cone said. “As horrible as this was
it could have been worse.”

Video from the scene showed police patrolling the area with handguns and
rifles, ducking behind buildings for cover. Sirens could be heard wailing
while a woman’s voice on a public-address system urged people to take cover.
Schools on the base went into lockdown, and family members trying to find
out what was happening inside found cell phone lines jammed or busy.

“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.”

The wounded were dispersed among hospitals in central Texas, Cone said. Their
identities and the identities of the dead were not immediately released.

The bodies of the victims would be taken to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware
for autopsies and forensic tests, said a U.S. official who spoke on
condition of anonymity to discuss matters that were under investigation.

There will also be a ceremony at the air base to honor the dead.

Jamie and Scotty Casteel stood outside the emergency room at the hospital in
Temple waiting for news of their son-in-law Matthew Cooke, who was among the

“He’s been shot in the abdomen and that’s all we know,” Jamie
Casteel told The Associated Press. She said Cook, from New York state, had
been home from Iraq for about a year.

Amber Bahr, 19, was shot in the stomach but was in stable condition, said her
mother, Lisa Pfund of Random Lake, Wisconsin.

“We know nothing, just that she was shot in the belly,” Pfund said.
She couldn’t provide more details and only spoke with emergency personnel.

Ashley Saucedo told WOOD-TV in Michigan that her husband was shot in the arm,
but she couldn’t discuss specifics. Saucedo said she and the couple’s two
children weren’t permitted to leave their home at Fort Hood during the

The motive for the shooting wasn’t clear, but Hasan was apparently set to
deploy soon, and had expressed some anger about the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said generals at Fort Hood
told her that Hasan was about to deploy overseas. Retired Col. Terry Lee,
who said he had worked with Hasan, told Fox News he was being sent to

Lee said Hasan had hoped Obama would pull troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq
and got into frequent arguments with others in the military who supported
the wars.

For six years before reporting for duty at Fort Hood, in July, the 39-year-old
Army major worked at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center pursuing a career
in psychiatry, as an intern, a resident and, last year, a fellow in disaster
and preventive psychiatry. He received his medical degree from the
military’s Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda,
Maryland, in 2001.

But his record wasn’t sterling. At Walter Reed, he received a poor performance
evaluation, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity
because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly. And while he was
an intern, Hasan had some “difficulties” that required counseling
and extra supervision, said Dr. Thomas Grieger, who was the training
director at the time.

At least six months ago, Hasan came to the attention of law enforcement
officials because of Internet postings about suicide bombings and other
threats, including posts that equated suicide bombers to soldiers who throw
themselves on a grenade to save the lives of their comrades.

Investigators had not determined for certain whether Hasan was the author of
the posting, and a formal investigation had not been opened before the
shooting, said law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity
because they are not authorized to discuss the case.

The FBI, local police and other agencies searched Hasan’s apartment Thursday
night after evacuating the complex in Killeen, said city spokeswoman Hilary
Shine. She referred questions about what was found to the FBI. The FBI in
Dallas referred questions to a spokesman who was not immediately available
early Friday morning.

Fort Hood: The world’s largest military base

* Fort Hood, near Austin, Texas, is the world’s largest military installation,
occupying 340 square kilometres.

* It is home to more than 65,000 soldiers, civilian personnel and family

* Two armoured divisions are based there, and up to 40,000 US troops.

* It was opened in 1942, as a place to test anti-tank guns that were crucial
to combating German blitzkrieg tactics.

* 75 troops at the base have committed suicide between the invasion of Iraq in
2003 and July this year ? more than at any other army post.

* The base is home to III Corps, the official counteroffensive force, who are
known as “America’s Hammer.”

* In January 2003, then President George W Bush addressed 4,500 troops at the
base, and told them to be ready for war.

* The base’s Fourth Infantry Division captured Saddam Hussein in 2003.

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