Gunman kills 12 in shooting rampage at Fort Hood base
An Army psychiatrist opened fire with two handguns at the Fort Hood Army post on Thursday, killing 12 and wounding 31 others, Army officials said, adding the suspect had not been killed as previously believed, Reuters reported.
Authorities identified the suspected gunman as Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who had treated soldiers wounded in foreign wars preparing for foreign deployment at the post.
"Our investigation is ongoing but preliminary reports indicate that there was a single shooter," Lieutenant-General Robert Cone, Fort Hood's commanding officer, told a news conference. "The shooter is not dead but in custody in stable condition."
Cone said the suspect had been shot multiple times. He previously said the suspect was killed by police officers during the attack at the biggest military facility in the world.
Asked whether the shootings were a terrorist act, Cone said, "I couldn't rule that out, but I'm telling you that right now the evidence does not suggest that."
The Army said the gunman opened fire at about 1:30 p.m. CST at the Soldiers Readiness Processing Center, a group of buildings where soldiers were getting medical check-ups before leaving for overseas deployments.
Cone said the gunman had two weapons, one of them a semi-automatic. "There is no indication that they were military weapons," he said.
It was one of the worst killings ever reported on a U.S. military base. In May, a U.S. soldier at a base in Baghdad shot and killed five fellow soldiers.
A cousin of the suspected shooter, Nader Hasan, told Fox news that he had been ordered to serve a term in Iraq and had been resisting such a deployment.
Nader Hasan said his cousin was a U.S.-born Muslim who had joined the military from high school. He had served as a psychiatrist at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C., which treats many badly wounded troops.
"He was a psychiatrist at Walter Reed dealing with the people coming back and ... trying to help them with their trauma," he said.
He said his cousin had been transferred to Fort Hood in April months ago and was very reluctant to be deployed to Iraq. "We've known over the last five years that was probably his worst nightmare," he said.
The incident raised new questions about the toll that six years of continuous fighting in Iraq and nearly eight years of fighting in Afghanistan have taken on the U.S. military and on individual soldiers, many of whom have been on several combat tours.
U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking in Washington, called the event a "horrific outburst of violence" and promised "answers to every single question about this horrible incident."
Fort Hood is home to about 50,000 troops, although Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said only about 35,000 were on base at the time. The fort, established in 1942, stretches across 339 square miles (878 square km) in central Texas and is the largest single employer in Texas.
It's the only military post in the United States capable of supporting two full armored divisions -- the 1st Cavalry Division and the 4th Infantry Division.
Base personnel have accounted for more suicides than any other Army post since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, with 75 tallied through July of this year. Nine of those occurred in 2009, counting two in overseas war zones.
A former FBI criminal profiler highlighted the irony of the gunman's reported expertise as a psychiatrist specializing in traumatic stress, which often affects combat soldiers.
"It may be that he succumbed to that which he was supposed to heal," Clint Van Zandt said on MSNBC.
Fort Hood is halfway between Austin and Waco, about 60 miles from each city. Nearby Killeen, Texas, was site of one of worst U.S. shooting rampages when a gunman drove his truck into a Luby's cafeteria in 1991, killing 23 and wounding 20 before killing himself.