NBC News and msnbc.com
updated 28 minutes ago
A U.S. soldier opened fire Thursday at Fort Hood, Texas, killing at least 11 people and wounding 31 others, military officials said. The gunman was shot to death, and two other soldiers were in custody.
NBC News’ Pete Williams reported that U.S. officials identified the gunman as Maj. Malik Nadal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist who had been promoted to major in May. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, said military officials told her that the gunman, who was 39 or 40, was about to be deployed to Iraq and was “upset about it.”
Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone, commanding general of the Army’s III Corps, who briefed President Barack Obama on the shootings, said the gunman used two handguns.
It was unclear why the two other soldiers were taken into custody. A senior administration official told NBC News that the shootings could have been a criminal matter rather than a terrorism-related attack and that there was no intelligence to suggest a plot against Fort Hood.
Military and local hospital officials said the victims were a mixture of men and women, military and civilian. At least one of those killed was a civilian police officer, Cone said. At least four local SWAT officers were among those wounded, NBC affiliate KCEN-TV of Waco reported.
Two of the victims remained in surgery late Thursday afternoon at Metroplex Hospital in Killeen. One of them, a woman, is an emergency medical worker the base, the hospital said.
Fort Hood, one of the largest military complexes in the world, was on lockdown, as were schools in the area. Dozens of agents of the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded to the post, federal officials said.
Muslim group condemns shootings
Speaking in Washington, Obama called the shootings a “horrific incident.”
“It’s difficult enough when we lose these great Americans in battles overseas,” Obama said at the Interior Department. “It’s horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil.”
Noting the Arabic nature of the gunman’s name, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington interest group, condemned “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 council said in a statement. “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.”
Shootings in deployment processing center
Emergency Services officials at Fort Hood said the incident began about 1:30 p.m. CT (2:30 p.m. ET) when the gunman opened fire in the Soldiers Readiness Processing Center on the west side of the base. A spokesman for the base, Sgt. Major Jamie Posten, said the processing center was where soldiers “cycle through as they prepare to deploy.”
Retired Army Col. Greg Schannep, an aide to Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, who was on the post to attend a graduation service, told the Fort Hood Sentinel that he heard “three or four volleys of shots, with eight to 12 shots in each volley.”
“Initially, I thought it was a training exercise,” he said. But then, “a soldier came running past me and said, ‘Sir, there is someone shooting.’
“As he ran past me, I saw blood on his back,” Schannep told the base paper. “I don’t think he even knew he had been shot.”
Fort Hood is adjacent to Killeen, about 60 miles northeast of Austin. The sprawling complex is home to at least 4,929 active-duty officers and 45,414 enlisted. Civilian employees total nearly 9,000.
A spokesman for the Army, Lt. Col. Lee M. Packnett, said he was unaware whether security measures were put in place at other military bases. Other U.S. military bases told local NBC stations that said the shootings were being treated as an isolated incident and that no special security measures were being implemented in response.
‘Shocked and saddened’
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, said in a statement: “I am shocked and saddened by today’s outburst of violence at Fort Hood that has cost seven of our brave service members their lives and has gravely injured others. My heart goes out to their loved ones.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign spokesperson said the governor was in Denton, scheduled to attend a campaign event, when word of the shooting occurred. There was no word on whether he had left Denton or whether he was headed to Fort Hood.
"Moreover, you scorned our people, and compared the Albanese to sheep, and according to your custom think of us with insults. Nor have you shown yourself to have any knowledge of my race. Our elders were Epirotes, where this Pirro came from, whose force could scarcely support the Romans. This Pirro, who Taranto and many other places of Italy held back with armies. I do not have to speak for the Epiroti. They are very much stronger men than your Tarantini, a species of wet men who are born only to fish. If you want to say that Albania is part of Macedonia I would concede that a lot more of our ancestors were nobles who went as far as India under Alexander the Great and defeated all those peoples with incredible difficulty. From those men come these who you called sheep. But the nature of things is not changed. Why do your men run away in the faces of sheep?"
Letter from Skanderbeg to the Prince of Taranto ▬ Skanderbeg, October 31 1460
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