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Investigators Probe Fort Hood Shooting

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Investigators Probe Fort Hood Shooting

Investigators Probe Fort Hood Shooting

Investigators Probe Fort Hood Shooting

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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In Fort Hood, Texas, investigators are collecting information about Thursday's deadly attack at a soldier processing center. Thirteen people were killed, 12 of them soldiers, and 30 were wounded when a gunman, identified as Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, opened fire in the facility.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

We're going to begin this hour at Fort Hood, Texas, the site of yesterday's horrific shootings. We're learning more about the toll of that attack - now 13 dead and 30 wounded - and more about the suspected gunman, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist. The Army's top leaders are at Fort Hood today checking on the investigation and praising yesterday's response by emergency crews and soldiers. This is Army Chief of Staff General George Casey.

GEORGE CASEY: I heard stories about medics, who were sitting in a graduation in a building next door, hearing the gunfire, and running to the sounds of the guns because they knew they would be wounded - in their caps and gowns. I talked to a young private who was sitting in his pickup truck in the parking lot, who heard gunshots - went back after his buddies.

SIEGEL: That's General George Casey speaking earlier today and NPR's Wade Goodwyn is at Fort Hood. Hi, Wade.


SIEGEL: We just heard General Casey talking about the soldiers' reaction to the shooting. What more do we know about what actually happened inside the Soldier Readiness Center?

GOODWYN: Well, today was a day for recounting the heroism of the soldiers and the officers at Fort Hood. You can believe that nothing makes prouder than men and women running towards the firefight to engage the enemy and assist their other fellow soldiers. And there was plenty of that yesterday. We heard about young medics who were there for their graduation, hearing gunfire, and taking off toward the sound of the shots. The military police engaging the shooter and taking him down.

And then just your regular GI, you know, running up there, tearing off their uniforms, dressing the fallen's wounds in the field, putting the wounded in the back of trucks and flying them to the hospital down the road. I think without the battlefield training the death count would have been higher.

SIEGEL: Let's talk about the suspect - lots of little pieces of information about Major Hasan.

GOODWYN: Yeah. Over the last 24 hours we've begun to get a picture of Major Hasan. The latest news is that the major had cleaned out his apartment in preparation for being deployed. According to AP, he tried to give some of his stuff to his neighbors, including a holy book. Those who knew the major - know the major say he was unhappy about this upcoming deployment. He was a psychiatrist, so he'd seen first hand the psychological trauma. And as a Muslim, he seems to have been concerned about America waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I think he felt isolated at Fort Hood, which is the major deployment post. And, you know, having his political views may have been one thing at Walter Reed, but Fort Hood is about soldiers preparing to fight. They're not going to be too sympathetic to arguments about why this whole endeavor is a bad idea for America. So, I think, Hasan was isolated and as we've seen in multiple school shootings, social isolation in boys and men can be a trigger to violence.

SIEGEL: Now, there were quite a few questions today for the Army leaders about stress on soldiers, on the Army as a whole. What did the Army brass have to say about that?

GOODWYN: Well, there, you know - the question is are the Army programs sufficient to identify and stop soldiers who are a threat to themselves and their fellow soldiers. Secretary McHugh even spoke to that.

JOHN MCHUGH: We have a suspect. We have terrible crimes that have been alleged. We have to understand what caused that suspect to act in the way in which he did and then derive back from that programs that can make a difference and hopefully alleviate the opportunity for that occurring in the future.

GOODWYN: So I think the investigation is going to teach the direction of where they go from here.

SIEGEL: Thank you, Wade.

GOODWYN: My pleasure.

SIEGEL: It's NPR's Wade Goodwyn speaking to us from Fort Hood.

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Fort Hood Suspect Reportedly Upset Over Deployment

An Army psychiatrist blamed for a shooting rampage that killed 13 people and wounded 30 was a devout Muslim who was distraught about an impending deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, friends and family said Friday.

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, opened fire Thursday afternoon at the Fort Hood, Texas, Soldier Readiness Center, according to witnesses.

Shooting In Fort Hood, Texas

Locator map pointing out Fort Hood, near Killeen, north of Austin, Texas.

A former imam who had known Hasan described him as a lifelong Muslim. A family member said he did not want to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, and some former colleagues cited a history of erratic behavior.

The alleged gunman was eventually brought down by four shots from the weapon of civilian police Sgt. Kimberly Munley, who was lauded Friday by post commander Lt. Gen. Robert Cone for her "amazing and aggressive performance" that saved lives.

Hasan was transferred to Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio Friday afternoon, where he was in stable condition in the intensive care unit. Authorities said he was expected to live; in the chaotic hours after the shooting, the military initially said he had been killed.

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan

Age: 39

Born: Sept. 8, 1970, Arlington, Va.

Education: Bachelor's degree with honors in biochemistry, Virginia Tech, 1997; general medicine degree, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, 2001

Military background: Hasan had served in the Army since June 1997. He trained to be a psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, where he served from June 2003 until last July.

Military awards: National Defense Service Medal (2 awards), Global War on Terror Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon

Sources: U.S. Army Office of the Chief of Public Affairs; NPR reports

Army Chief of Staff George Casey called the assault, the deadliest such incident ever on a U.S. military post, "a kick in the gut."

Casey, who was accompanied by Secretary of the Army John McHugh, recounted acts of individual heroism at the scene of the bloodshed. "I heard stories about medics running from a graduation ceremony next door when they heard gunshots," Casey said.

The Aftermath Of The Shooting

He also cited a young private who was sitting in his pickup in a parking lot and heard gunfire.

McHugh promised "every possible resource, every possible form of support" for the families and victims. He said the investigation was being handled jointly by the Army's Criminal Investigation Command and the FBI.

Friday evening, several hundred people gathered at a stadium at Fort Hood, where the Army's chief chaplain offered prayers for families and victims of the shootings.

Chaplain Douglas Carver told those at the Friday night vigil — many dressed in fatigues and black berets — to "remember to keep breathing ... keep going."

"God Bless America" and "Amazing Grace" were sung as husbands wrapped their arms around their wives, babies cried and old men in wheelchairs bowed their heads.

It was the first community gathering since the killings.

Army Sgt. Howard Appleby, who helped care for some of the wounded, said what happened on Thursday was even more traumatic than what he had experienced in Iraq.

"In Iraq you just see this once a day ... [you see] one guy die today, another guy die tomorrow, but 12, 13 guys die at one time — yeah, it's crazy."

President Obama on Friday ordered American flags to fly at half-staff until Veterans Day, a gesture he called a "modest tribute to those who lost their lives as they were preparing to risk their lives for their nation."

A moment of silence was held for service members at 1:34 p.m. Central Time on Friday, exactly 24 hours after the shootings began.

Faizul Khan, a former imam, said Hasan was a lifelong Muslim and had at one time regularly attended prayers at a mosque in Silver Spring, Md.

A cousin, Nader Hasan, told The New York Times that after counseling soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder, Hasan knew the scars of war well.

"He was mortified by the idea of having to deploy," Nader Hasan said. "He had people telling him on a daily basis the horrors they saw over there."

Earlier, Nader Hasan had issued a statement on behalf of the family expressing shock and sadness over the incident.

Islamic groups were quick to distance themselves from the attack, and some expressed concern about a possible backlash against Muslims.

"No political or religious ideology could ever justify or excuse [this] wanton or indiscriminate violence," said Nihad Awad, head of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

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 Hutchison of Texas, who told Fox News that she was told Hasan may have been targeting specific individuals.

U.S. Army soldiers are seen in the background Thursday as Jamie Casteel and her husband, Scotty, of Duncan, Okla., await news of their son-in-law outside the Scott and White Hospital emergency room in Temple, Texas. Tony Gutierrez/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Tony Gutierrez/AP

U.S. Army soldiers are seen in the background Thursday as Jamie Casteel and her husband, Scotty, of Duncan, Okla., await news of their son-in-law outside the Scott and White Hospital emergency room in Temple, Texas.

Tony Gutierrez/AP

Hasan's supervisor said she was surprised that he had been accused of the shootings.

"In my organization, he was a very dedicated provider," said Col. Kimberly Kesling, deputy commander for clinical services at the post hospital. "He provided good care for his patients. He was a hard worker and we were actually quite pleased to have him as a member of our team."

But two other psychiatrists who had worked closely with Hasan when he was training at Walter Reed told NPR that the suspect could be belligerent. The two asked not to be identified because the military had ordered them not to talk to the media.

They said Hasan would sometimes belittle colleagues without provocation.

The psychiatrists also said Hasan once gave a bizarre lecture to the medical staff in which he said the Quran teaches that infidels should have their heads cut off and set on fire.

"When I heard the news about Hasan, honestly, my first thought was, 'That makes a lot of sense. That completely fits the person I knew,' " one of the psychiatrists told NPR.

Fort Hood, which covers some 335 square miles near Killeen, Texas, 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.

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

Contributing: Scott Neuman; Wade Goodwyn; Kevin Whitelaw; NPR staff