13 Die In Fort Hood Shooting, Suspect Hospitalized
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And I'm Renee Montagne. This morning, a U.S. Army officer stepped before reporters at Fort Hood, Texas. Major John Rossi offered the details of a shooting blamed on one of his fellow officers.
Major JOHN ROSSI (U.S. Army): I'd like to start by saying that this has been a tragic incident, and that our hearts and prayers go out to all of those who've been impacted by this tragedy. The investigation of the incident is ongoing. Initial findings indicate that there was a single shooter who was ultimately shot and subdued by our first responders. At this time, the number of victims killed remains 13, and 28 injured remained hospitalized.
MONTAGNE: Those numbers only begin to know the story of what happened yesterday at the Army base. We have so far learned only a few facts about the dead. Twelve were military personnel, one was a civilian. It's often distressing that after a tragedy like this, we learn many things about the shooter and little about the victims, but in the coming days and hours, we expect to learn more. For now, we know that they were inside a facility where troops prepare to deploy for Afghanistan or Iraq, and it's where they were attacked.
NPR's Wade Goodwyn is in Killeen, Texas, just outside the gates of Fort Hood, and joins us. Good morning, Wade.
WADE GOODWYN: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: First, walk us through what we know as of this morning about what happened at Fort Hood.
GOODWYN: Well, here's what we think we know. Just before 1:30 yesterday, a medical doctor, a psychiatrist walked into the Soldiers Readiness Center and opened fire with two hand guns, one of which was a semi automatic, neither was military issue. He was engaged by military police and shot four times. Although you might think that an Army post is full of soldiers with loaded weapons, that's not the case.
If a soldier's not on a training exercise, they're not armed unless they're MPs. And as you might expect, the base's reaction was immediate, sirens went off, a woman's voice began warning over loudspeakers that this was an emergency and it was not a drill, that everyone should take cover. Fort Hood was locked down and the area surrounding the massacre was sealed off.
MONTAGNE: And I've also heard, Wade, that the other soldiers in the room after the chaos in the initial shooting really jumped in and helped the wounded and the fallen.
GOODWYN: There were reports that soldiers came rushing to the fallen, tearing at their uniforms and bandaging the wounded. The military police responded very quickly. Without the speed of the first responders and the willingness of the soldiers and the expertise of the soldiers in treating the wounded, I think it could have been much worse.
MONTAGNE: Now early reports were that Hasan was killed. But late last evening, we were told that was not the case.
GOODWYN: That was a stunner. I mean, there had been confusion about the details all afternoon long. First, it was one shooter, then maybe two shooters. But last night, Lieutenant General Bob Cone came out and had a pretty surprising announcement.
Lieutenant General ROBERT CONE (U.S. Army): Preliminary reports indicate there was a single shooter that was shot multiple times at the scene. However, he was not killed, as previously reported.
GOODWYN: Evidently, in the chaos of the crime scene and in the rush to get the wounded to the hospitals, it took doctors some time before they realized that the man on the operating table in front of them was not a victim, but the accused perpetrator, and he wasn't dead.
MONTAGNE: So what do we know now at this moment in time about Nidal Hasan?
GOODWYN: He's 39 years old, a graduate of Virginia Tech. According to the Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, he was about to be deployed overseas. He is a devout Muslim. He was said to have hoped that President Obama was going to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, and the New York Times reports that he was very concerned about his impending deployment because he'd witnessed first hand severe cases of posttraumatic stress disorder in returning soldiers. In a statement yesterday, Hasan's cousin made this statement: We are filled with grief for the families of today's victims. Our family loves America. We are proud of our country and we are saddened by today's tragedy.
MONTAGNE: What about the victims? What do we know about them?
GOODWYN: Well, not a whole lot. Not a lot has been released about the victims. We don't even know how many victims were men or how many victims were women. I think as the military finishes up notifying relatives that more of that information is going to be coming out.
MONTAGNE: What has been the scene, then, at Fort Hood since this all began? Obviously, it's a tense situation. People talking about what happened?
GOODWYN: Well, it's sad. Five hundred soldiers from Fort Hood have been killed in action since 2001 in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many on this base have been deployed four times. Our men and women are coming home sometimes badly wounded, sometimes psychologically damaged. Make no mistake. These families are exhausted under the brutal conditions of normal circumstances. This was really just too much.
MONTAGNE: Wade, thank you very much.
GOODWYN: It's my pleasure.
MONTAGNE: That's NPR's Wade Goodwyn with us from Killeen, Texas, outside the gates of Fort Hood.
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