Thursday, November 5, 2009

thoughts/prayers/good vibes needed for fort hood

NBC News and
updated 28 minutes ago

An Army psychiatrist opened fire Thursday at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 12 people and wounding 30 others before being shot to death, officials told NBC News.

Eleven of the victims died at the scene, military officials said. A 12th died later at a hospital, NBC station KCEN-TV of Waco reported.

NBC News’ Pete Williams reported that U.S. officials identified the gunman as Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist who had been promoted to major in May. Defense officials said Hasan, 39, arrived at Fort Hood in July after practicing for six years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, which included a fellowship in disaster and preventive psychiatry.

Hasan was scheduled to be deployed to Iraq on Nov. 28, officials said. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said military officials had told her that Hasan was “pretty upset” about his deployment orders.

The Associated Press, quoting federal law enforcement officials, said Hasan had come to their attention at least six months ago because of Internet postings that discussed suicide bombings and other threats. The officials said they were still trying to confirm that he was the author.

One of the Web postings that authorities reviewed is a blog item that equates suicide bombers with a soldier throwing himself on a grenade to save the lives of his comrades. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case.

Medical records on file in Virginia, where Hasan was born and was registered to practice, and Maryland, where he received his medical degree at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, revealed no disciplinary actions or formal complaints.

Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone, commanding general of the Army’s III Corps, said the gunman used two handguns.

Two other soldiers were taken into custody after the shooting. Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, said they were released, but later in the day law enforcement officials told Carter that another person had been detained for questioning.

Image: Nidal Malik Hassan
Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan was described as ‘upset’ about his pending deployment to Iraq.

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, KCEN reported.

‘They shot me!’
Among the wounded was Pfc. Keara Bono, 21, of Independence, Mo., who was shot in the shoulder. She called her mother, Peggy McCarty, to let her know she would be OK.

Bono, who works with soldiers dealing with stress, arrived in Fort Hood only Wednesday from her previous posting in Topeka, Kan., NBC station KSN-TV of Wichita, Kan., reported. Her brother, Dustin, told the Kansas City Star that Bono was “mad more than anything.”

“They shot me! And I’m still here in this country!” Dustin Bono quoted his sister as saying.

Robin Geiser of Random Lake, Wis., said her 24-year-old son, who commands soldiers at Fort Hood, knew some of the victims. He had been scheduled to be in the readiness center Thursday ahead of his deployment in January, but he was spared because his day’s orders were changed and he was on the training ground, instead, Geiser said.

“I was terrified come January,” Geiser told NBC station WTMJ-TV of Milwaukee. “I’m doubly worried now. If you can’t be safe here ....”

Geiser said that in conversations with her son, he told her that “there’s a lot of anger in a lot of these soldiers.”

“Who knows what it stems from?” she asked.