NPR Home Page Top Stories

Massacre Leaves 13 Dead At Fort Hood

A mass shooting rocked one of the nation's largest military posts on Thursday after a U.S. Army psychiatrist allegedly opened fire inside Fort Hood in Texas.

Thirteen people were killed and 30 people were injured according to U.S. military officials. Most of the victims were U.S. military personnel.

Post spokesman Tyler Broadway told the Associated Press early Friday that a 13th person had died.

The shooting occurred at the Soldier Readiness Center, where troops deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan receive last-minute medical checkups.

One U.S. soldier, armed with at least two handguns, including a semiautomatic weapon, started firing around 1:30 p.m. local time before he was eventually shot four times by emergency personnel responding to the incident, Lt. Gen. Robert Cone said.

Military officials said the alleged shooter, identified as Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, was unconscious and on a ventilator.

A female civilian officer who shot the suspect was also among the wounded.

"As horrible as this was, I think it could have been much worse," Cone said at a press conference.

Cone initially told reporters that the suspect had been killed, but offered updated information at a second press conference that Hasan, a psychiatrist working at Fort Hood, had survived. The accused shooter, however, is not talking to investigators, according to Cone.

Authorities said they took three other U.S. soldiers into custody in the initial aftermath of the incident, but they were all quickly released.

The motive behind the shootings was not immediately clear, officials said.

"We've had a terrible tragedy here at Fort Hood here today," Cone told reporters outside the gate to Fort Hood a few hours after the shooting. "This is all under investigation."

A senior U.S. officials told The Associated Press that investigators have not ruled out the possibility that some casualties may have been victims of "friendly fire," shot by authorities amid the mayhem and confusion at the scene.

In a statement issued by a public relations firm, Hasan's first cousin, Nader Hasan, said Nidal Hasan was born in Arlington, Va., and went to local high schools before attending Virginia Tech. Nader Hasan said he spoke for the family because Nidal Hasan's parents are no longer alive.

"We are shocked and saddened by the terrible events at Fort Hood today," the statement read, in part. "We send the families of the victims our most heartfelt sympathies ... We are filled with grief for the families of today's victims. Our family loves America. We are proud of our country, and saddened by today's tragedy."

Hasan was a psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for six years before being sent to Texas in July. He was apparently upset about being scheduled to deploy overseas, according to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas, who told Fox News that she was told he may have been targeting specific individuals.

A source tells NPR's Joseph Shapiro that Hasan was put on probation early in his postgraduate work at the Uniformed Service University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. He was disciplined for proselytizing about his Muslim faith with patients and colleagues, according to the source, who worked with him at the time.

As the attack unfolded, military officials immediately locked down the sprawling post, which covers some 335 square miles in central Texas. The lockdown was lifted several hours later, but the post continues to operate at a heightened level of security.

The post is a prime deployment point for the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Roughly half of Fort Hood's 44,000 soldiers were serving in Iraq or Afghanistan as of August 2009.

More than 520 soldiers from Fort Hood have been killed since the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Washington, President Obama expressed his sympathies to the wounded and the families of the slain soldiers, and he pledged a full inquiry.

"It's difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas," he says. "It is horrifying that they come under fire at a military base on American soil."

Islamic groups were also quick to condemn the killing after it became clear that the suspected shooter was Muslim. The Council of American-Islamic Relations issued a statement calling it a "cowardly" attack.

"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," the group's statement said.

The first shots were fired 30 minutes before a graduation ceremony was scheduled to begin at a nearby theater on the base.

The wounded soldiers were taken to nearby hospitals, which put out an urgent call for blood donations.

Scott & White Memorial Hospital in nearby Temple, Texas, closed completely to outside visitors after taking in 10 gunshot victims from Fort Hood, according to a release from the hospital.

The incident sparked grim memories of an earlier mass shooting in the same area.

Fort Hood is located near Killeen, Texas, which was the site of one of the nation's worst mass shootings in history. On Oct. 16, 1991, George Hennard shot and killed 23 people in a Luby's Cafeteria restaurant before turning the gun on himself. He also wounded 20 people.

Source: NPR []

Become a KQED sponsor

Follow KQED News on Facebook

Follow KQED News on Twitter

For the latest updates from KQED News, follow us on Twitter.