12 dead, 31 wounded in Texas military base shooting spree
By Doug Wyllie
FORT HOOD, Texas — At least 12 people are dead and dozens more have been wounded in a shooting at the Soldier Readiness Center located at at Fort Hood. The “preponderance of the victims” were U.S. troops, according to Lt. General Bob Cone. The gunman, Major Malik Nadal Hasan, was initially reported as being killed by military police officers who had responded to the incident. Hasan is, however, not dead, and is presently in custody and listed in stable but serious condition, Cone said in a late evening press conference. The female civilian officer, also initially reported as having been killed, is alive. Her name has not been released, but Cone said that she is the officer who wounded Hasan in the firefight. She is reportedly out of surgery and under medical observation at a nearby hospital.
Following several hours in which it was widely reported that the assailant had been killed, the most surprising news of the latest press conference was the issue of Hasan’s medical condition. Cone told reporters, “I would say his death is not imminent.”
Cone refused to discuss Hasan’s motive in the attack, but many news agencies have said that Hasan was upset about his upcoming deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.
The U.S. Army base, which is the largest U.S. military installation in the world and home of both the 1st Cavalry Division and the First Army Division West, is located outside Killeen, Texas. Prior to today’s attack, Killeen was also the site of one of the most deadly active shooter incidents in the country. In 1991 35-year-old George Hennard drove his pickup truck through one of the windows at the Luby’s Cafeteria and in a 15-minute rampage killed 24 people.
Nearby schools, inclduing the Killeen Independet School District, had been put on lockdown throught the afternoon. Other U.S. military bases had been placed on an alert status, but none on official lockdown.
“A shooter opened fire and due to the quick response of police forces, the shooter was killed,” Cone said during an impromptu press conference several moments before 1400 (Pacific Time). “He [the primary shooter] was a soldier.”
Cone also confirmed that two other suspected shooters were military personnel. “We have since apprehended two additional soldiers — both are suspects. They were apprehended and are suspects at this time.”
Both of those individuals have now been released.
Cone said also that “all the casualties were at the initial incident,” and that both weapons used by the primary shooter were handguns.
Carroll Smith, Public Information Officer for nearby Killeen Police Department, told Homeland1 immediately following the initial reports of the shooting that her department was standing by and ready to aid in the response. Smith then confirmed early reports that there were two attackers — “one shooter is in custody, one other is contained,” Smith said.
“One gunman was reportedly in custody and another was on the loose,” said an early report from NBC News.
Smith said further that her counterparts at Fort Hood were “not releasing anything because everything is chaos there right now. I've been there, done that. We're just waiting to get a call from them should they need our assistance.”
Texas DPS spokeswoman Tela Mange told Homeland1, “Texas Highway Patrol Troopers and Texas Rangers responded to the scene to assist in securing perimeter and provide other assistance.”
According to the very first reports from national news sources, it was unknown whether victims were soldiers or civilians. Subsequent reports indicate that most, if not all, of the casualties are U.S. military personnel. The Associated Press now reports that 31 individuals were injured and are now being given care at several central Texas hospitals.
Barbara Starr, Pentagon Reporter for CNN had reported at 1330 hrs. (Pacific Time) that as many as nine people were dead and as many as 30 have been wounded. Those numbers, as noted above, have since been updated by the U.S. Army.
As the news first broke, retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore told CNN that “one person was ‘neutralized’ in connection with the incident, and a second is ‘cornered’.”
PoliceOne’s strategic partner STRATFOR issued a report that said, in part, “While details are still coming in, this appears to be a premeditated and coordinated attack and follows previous plots foiled by U.S. security forces, such as the Fort Dix plot and the recent North Carolina terror plot. It remains to be seen if this attack is the work of a grassroots jihadist cell or a lone-wolf or mutiny type of attack.”
In a live interview on CNN, Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said that she had spoken with an Army General on the base, who had told her that both of the shooters were wearing military uniforms, although it is unclear whether the shooters were impersonators or military personnel.
“The shooting began at about 1:30 p.m. at a personnel and medical processing office,” Army spokesman Lt. Col. Nathan Banks had told the Associated Press very soon after the incident began. This facility, a converted athletic dome, is one of the places soldiers go for medical readiness examinations before deploying to the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It’s difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas,” President Obama said during a late afternoon press conference. “It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil.”
Fort Hood is also the home of the so-called Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program, which counsels soldiers upon returning from the war zones oversea, on PTSD, family problems, and myriad other difficulties facing the brave men and women in uniform. According to its website, the program is staffed by active-duty and civilian psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, licensed professional counselors, social workers, and psychology technicians who seek to “help address common and normal reactions to war experiences.”
At present it is unclear whether Hasan, reportedly a trained psychologist about 39 years old, was one of the care-givers who work for the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program. The Associated Press reports that “investigators are trying to determine if Hasan was his birth name or if he may have changed his name and converted to the Islamic faith at some point.”
Hannah Simon, Homeland1 Staff, contributed to this report.