11.9.01

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, about to Be Deployed to Middle East, Kills 12, Wounds 31 at Fort Hood Military Base

In Uncategorized on November 6, 2009 at 9:33 am

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is identified as the shooter:

An Army psychiatrist facing deployment to one of America’s war zones killed 12 people and wounded 31 others on Thursday in a shooting rampage with two handguns at the sprawling Fort Hood Army post in central Texas, military officials said. It was one of the worst mass shootings ever at a military base in the United States.

The gunman, who was still alive after being shot four times, was identified by law enforcement authorities as Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, who had been in the service since 1995. Major Hasan was about to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, said Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas.  Clad in a military uniform and firing an automatic pistol and another weapon, Major Hasan, a balding, chubby-faced man with heavy eyebrows, sprayed bullets inside a crowded medical processing center for soldiers returning from or about to be sent overseas, military officials said. The victims, nearly all military personnel but including two civilians, were cut down in clusters, the officials said.

In the confusion of a day of wild and misleading reports, the major and the officer who shot him were both reported killed in the gun battle, but both reports were erroneous.

Eight hours after the shootings, Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone, a base spokesmen, said Major Hasan, whom he described as the sole gunman, had been shot four times, but was hospitalized off the base, under around-the-clock guard, in stable condition and was not in imminent danger of dying.

General Cone said that terrorism was not being ruled out, but that preliminary evidence did not suggest that the rampage had been an act of terrorism.

As a widespread investigation by the military, the F.B.I., and other agencies began, much about the assault in Texas remained unclear. Department of Homeland Security officials said the Army would take the lead in the investigation.

A federal law enforcement official said the F.B.I. was sending more agents to join the inquiry. On Thursday night, F.B.I. agents were interviewing residents of a townhouse complex in the Washington suburb of Kensington, Md., where Major Hasan had lived before moving to Texas.

Mr. Obama called the shootings “a horrific outburst of violence” and urged Americans to pray for those who were killed and wounded.

“It is difficult enough when we lose these men and women in battles overseas,” he said. “It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil.”

The president pledged “to get answers to every single question about this horrible incident.”

Military records indicated that Major Hasan was single, had been born in Virginia, had never served abroad and listed “no religious preference” on his personnel records. Three other soldiers, their roles unclear, were taken into custody in connection with the rampage. The office of Representative John Carter, Republican of Texas, said they were later released, but a Fort Hood spokesman could not confirm that. General Cone said that more than 100 people had been questioned during the day.

Fort Hood, near Killeen and 100 miles south of Dallas-Fort Worth, is the largest active duty military post in the United States, 340 square miles of training and support facilities and homes, a virtual city for more than 50,000 military personnel and some 150,000 family members and civilian support personnel. It has been a major center for troops being deployed to or returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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