Army: 13 killed in shooting rampage

November 6, 2009 9:25:24 AM PST
An Army officer opened fire Thursday with two handguns at the Fort Hood military post in an attack that left 13 people dead and 30 wounded. Though he was thought dead, authorities investigating the scene said that he is still alive and in stable condition at an area hospital, said Maj. Gen. Robert Cone. Two other soldiers were apprehended in what appears to be the worst mass shooting at a U.S. military base. [CONTACT US: Do you have a loved one at Ft. Hood?]
[PHOTOS: Images from Thursday's tragic shooting at Ft. Hood]
[MAP: Ft. Hood in Killeen]
[MASS SHOOTINGS: Timline of mass shootings in the U.S.]

There was no immediate word on a motive. The shooting began around 1:30 p.m., said Lt. Gen. Bob Cone at Fort Hood. He said all the casualties took place at the cone's Soldier Readiness Center, where soldiers who are about to be deployed or who are returning undergo medical screening.

"It's a terrible tragedy. It's stunning," Cone said.

A law enforcement official identified the shooting suspect as Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. The official said Hasan was shot four times after opening fire at the cone, but remains alive, though unconscious and on a ventilator.He is listed in stable condition.

"I would say his death is not imminent," Cone said.

Military officials say Hasan was a psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for six years before being transferred to the Texas cone in July.

The officials had access to Hasan's military record. They said he received a poor performance evaluation while at Walter Reed.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because military records are confidential.

The Virginia-born soldier is single with no children. He is 39 years old.

He is a graduate of Virginia Tech University, where he was a member of the ROTC and earned a bachelor's degree in biochemistry in 1997. He received his medical degree from the military's Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., in 2001. At Walter Reed, he did his internship, residency and a fellowship.

ABC News has learned from Hasan's cousin, who describes their relationship as very close, that Hasan has always been Muslim, not a convert as some have speculated. He joined the Army before the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. Both of Hasan's parents are deceased. He has two brothers, one in the US and one in Jerusalem. The cousin also describes Hassan as a very pious person.

A graduation ceremony for soldiers who finished college courses while deployed was going on nearby 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 representing Carter at the graduation, said John Stone, a spokesman for Carter, whose district includes the Army post.

Schanepp was at the 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 after the shootings, but that has since been lifted. The wounded were dispersed among hospitals in central Texas, Cone said. Nine were taken to Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple. A hospital spokeswoman says all had been shot and are adults. A Fort Hood spokesman said he could not immediately confirm any identities of the injured.

Lisa Pfund of Random Lake, Wis., says her daughter, 19-year-old Amber Bahr, was shot in the stomach but was in stable condition. "We know nothing, just that she was shot in the belly," Pfund told The Associated Press. She couldn't provide more details and only spoke with emergency personnel.

"I ask that all of you keep these families and these individuals in your prayers today," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said.

The shootings on the Texas military cone stirred memories of other recent mass shootings in the United States, including 13 dead at a New York immigrant center in March, 10 killed during a gunman's rampage across Alabama in March and 32 killed in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history at Virginia Tech in 2007.
[ See details of a list of the most recent mass shootings ]

Around the country, some cones stepped up security precautions, but no others were locked down.

"The bottom line for us is that we are increasing security at our gates because the threat hasn't yet been defined, and we're reminding our Marines to be vigilant in their areas of responsibility," said Capt. Rob Dolan, public affairs officer for the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz.

In Washington, President Barack Obama called the shooting "a horrific outburst of violence." He said it's a tragedy to lose a soldier overseas and even more horrifying when they come under fire at an Army cone on American soil.

"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."

"This is a terrible tragedy that we will know more about in the coming days. For now our focus is squarely on taking care of our soldiers and their families," said Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those who have been killed and wounded. The leadership at Fort Hood is marshalling the medical support and counselors necessary to take care of our soldiers and their families and to notify the next of kin."

Former President George W. Bush issued a statement, "I was saddened to learn of the tragic incident at Fort Hood. Laura and I are keeping the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."

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 cone is located halfway between Austin and Waco.

About a mile from Fort Hood's east gate, Cynthia Thomas, director of Under the Hood Cafe, a coffee house and outreach center, was calling soldiers and friends on the post to make sure they're OK.

"It's chaotic," Thomas said, as a SWAT team just drove by. "The phones are jammed. Everybody is calling family members and friends. Soldiers are running around with M-16s."

Fort Hood officially opened on Sept. 18, 1942, and was named in honor of Gen. John Bell Hood. It has been continuously used for armored training and is charged with maintaining readiness for combat missions.

The Waco Chapter of the American Red Cross is establishing a communications program so people around the country can check on the safety of individual personnel at Fort Hood.

"The Safe & Well program allows those involved in an emergency to register online at www.safeandwell.org so their loved ones can find them and check on their safety," the agency said in a statement.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn issued a statement saying, "My heart goes out to the victims of the tragedy that occurred today at Fort Hood, as well as their families. Fort Hood is one of our nation's finest and largest military installations, and a place that has long been a source of pride for Texans, and for all Americans who value the selfless service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform.

"It is imperative that we take the time to gather all the facts, as it would be irresponsible to be the source of rumors or inaccurate information regarding such a horrific event. Once we have ascertained all the facts, working with our military leaders and law enforcement officials on the ground, we can determine what exactly happened at Fort Hood today and how to prevent something like this from ever happening again. We do not yet have these details. My prayers are with the individuals who were killed today, the wounded and their loved ones."

A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy group condemned the atteck. In a statement, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said, "We condemn this cowardly attack in the strongest terms possible and ask that the perpetrators be punished to the full extent of the law. No political or religious ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence. The attack was particularly heinous in that it targeted the all-volunteer army that protects our nation. American Muslims stand with our fellow citizens in offering both prayers for the victims and sincere condolences to the families of those killed or injured."

Stay with ABC13 Eyewitness News for the latest on this developing story.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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