Complete and continuing coverage of the fatal shootings at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009

Fort Hood Suspect Now Able to Talk

Death toll stands at 13, two dozen injured

By Frank Heinz, Stacy Morrow, Lita Beck and Ellen Goldberg
|  Monday, Nov 9, 2009  |  Updated 6:18 PM CDT
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Dramatic Photos: The Fort Hood Tragedy

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Nidal Malik Hasan, the man identified as the shooting suspect at Fort Hood, was an Army psychiatrist preparing to deploy to Iraq. He is in stable condition after being shot by law enforcement during the rampage.

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The man accused of killing 13 people and wounding 29 others at Fort Hood is able to talk, a hospital spokesman said Monday, but it's unknown when investigators might take advantage of his improving health to press forward with their probe into the shooting spree.

Authorities say Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan fired off more than 100 rounds Thursday before civilian police shot him in the torso. He was taken into custody and eventually moved to an Army hospital in San Antonio, where he was in stable condition and able to talk, said Dewey Mitchell, a Brooke Army Medical Center spokesman.

Authorities continue to refer to Hasan, 39, as the only suspect in the shootings, but they won't say when charges would be filed and have said they have not determined a motive. A spokesman for Army investigators did not immediately respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment Monday.

Sixteen victims remained hospitalized with gunshot wounds, and seven were in intensive care.

The personal Web site for a radical American imam living in Yemen who had contact with two 9/11 hijackers praised Hasan as a hero.

The posting Monday on the Web site for Anwar al Awlaki, who was a spiritual leader at two mosques where three 9/11 hijackers worshipped, said American Muslims who condemned the Fort Hood attack are hypocrites who have committed treason against their religion.

Awlaki said the only way a Muslim can justify serving in the U.S. military is if he intends to "follow in the footsteps of men like Nidal."

Two U.S. intelligence officials told The Associated Press the Web site was Awlaki's. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence collection. Awlaki did not immediately respond to an attempt to contact him through the Web site.

Hasan's family attended the Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va., where Awlaki was preaching in 2001. Hasan's mother's funeral was held at the mosque on May 31, 2001, according to her obituary in the Roanoke Times newspaper, around the same time two 9/11 hijackers worshipped at the mosque and while Awlaki was preaching.

Awlaki is a native-born U.S. citizen who left the United States in 2002, eventually traveling to Yemen. He was released from a Yemeni jail last year and has since gone missing. He is on Yemen's most wanted militant list, according to three Yemeni security officials.

The officials say Awlaki was arrested in 2006 with a small group of suspected al-Qaida militants in the capital San'a. They say he was released more than a year later after signing a pledge he will not break the law or leave the country. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The Falls Church mosque is one of the largest on the East Coast, and thousands of worshippers attend prayers and services there every week.

Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, outreach director at Dar al Hijrah, said he did not know whether Hasan ever attended the mosque but confirmed that the Hasan family participated in services there. Abdul-Malik said the Hasans were not leaders at the mosque and their attendance was normal.

Sen. Joe Lieberman said Sunday he wants Congress to determine whether the shootings constitute a terrorist attack and whether warning signs that Hasan was embracing an increasingly extremist view of Islamic ideology were missed.

Classmates who participated in a 2007-2008 master's program at a military college told The Associated Press that they complained to faculty during the program about what they considered to be Hasan's anti-American views, which included his giving a presentation that justified suicide bombing and telling classmates that Islamic law trumped the U.S. Constitution.

"If Hasan was showing signs, saying to people that he had become an Islamist extremist, the U.S. Army has to have zero tolerance," Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, said on "Fox News Sunday." "He should have been gone."

Army Chief of Staff George Casey warned Sunday against reaching conclusions about the suspected shooter's motives until investigators have fully explored the attack. "I think the speculation (on Hasan's Islamic roots) could potentially heighten backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers," he said on ABC's "This Week."

President Barack Obama is scheduled to attend a memorial service Tuesday honoring victims of the attack, and he'll arrive to a post on the mend.

Fort Hood spokesman Col. John Rossi said the country's largest military installation was moving forward with the business of soldiering. The processing center where Hasan allegedly opened fire remains a crime scene, but the activities that went on there were relocated, with the goal of soon reopening the center.

"There's a lot of routine activity still happening. You'll hear cannon fire and artillery fire," Rossi said. "Soldiers in units are still trying to execute the missions we have been tasked with."

Sgt. 1st Class Frank Minnie was in the processing center last week getting some health tests and immunizations in preparation for his deployment. Minnie said that even after the shootings, Fort Hood soldiers have the attitude that "the mission still goes on."

"Everybody's going to grieve a little bit. It hurts a lot because it's one of your battle buddies, and someone lost a mom, dad, brother or sister," said Minnie, 37, who served in Iraq in 2006. "But it doesn't change my perspective of going to war. I've got a job to do."

On Sunday, mourners were asked to pray for Hasan. An Army chaplain exhorted his congregation on Sunday to draw together even if the gunman's motives may never be fully known.

Find out more about Sunday service here.

The death toll from the shooting climbed to 13 after a military official told The Associated Press early Friday that one of the injured had died.

"This was a kick in the gut, not only for the Fort Hood community, but also for the entire Army," Army Chief of Staff George Casey said.

Shock over the shootings persisted into Friday night, when hundreds attended a candlelight vigil in the first formal community gathering since the killings. Earlier in the day, a moment of silence was held at U.S. military installations as a show of respect for the victims, and 13 flag-draped coffins departed from Fort Hood for Dover Air Force Base and the military's mortuary based in Delaware.
 
At the vigil, husbands wrapped their arms around their wives, babies cried and old men in wheelchairs bowed their heads during the service at a post stadium.
 
The Army's chief chaplain, Douglas Carver, offered prayers and encouragement to those in attendance.
 
"Remember to keep breathing. ... Keep going," Carver told the crowd of several hundred, many dressed in fatigues and black berets.
 
The crowd sang "God Bless America" and "Amazing Grace" in the bleachers under the stadium lights. After about 20 minutes, the stadium went dark, the only light from camera flashes and surrounding buildings in the distance as candles were passed around the bleachers.

A grief counseling center was set up Friday at the Killeen Community Center to help residents struggling to make sense of one of the worst mass shootings ever on a base in the United States.

Although authorities said immediately after the shootings that the man accused in the incident was killed, Lt. Gen. Robert Cone said Thursday night that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was in custody and was hospitalized.

Cone offered little explanation as for why authorities initially reported Hasan had been killed, saying there was confusion at the hospital.

"His death is not imminent," he said Thursday night.

Hasan, a 39-year-old man from Virginia, was shot multiple times by Sgt. Kimberly Munley, a police officer who was injured in the shooting.

Fort Hood spokesman Col. John Rossi read a statement on Munley's behalf at a news conference Saturday. He said she and her family were thankful for all the support and prayers that have some their way since the story of her actions emerged.
 
Rossi said she underwent her second surgery Saturday and is in good condition. She is most concerned that the wounded make a speedy recovery. Find out more about Munley here.

Sgt. Mark Todd, one of two police officers who confronted the alleged Fort Hood killer says he shot Hasan before kicking his weapon away, handcuffing him and ending the nation's worst killing spree on a military base. Find out more about the firefight here.

THE SHOOTING

The first shooting took place at the SRC, Bldg 42000 at 75th and Battalion Avenue, at about 1:30 p.m., according to Army officials.

The SRC is where soldiers begin the process of vaccinations and other preparation prior to deployment. A graduation ceremony for soldiers who finished college courses while deployed was going on in an auditorium at the Readiness Center at the time of the shooting, said Sgt. Rebekah Lampam, a Fort Hood spokeswoman.

A Fort Worth soldier who has been stationed at Fort Hood for the past few months was in the processing center filling out paperwork for his January deployment to Afghanistan when the shooting began.

"As I was running out the door, I could hear rounds flying past me, hitting the wall and the door," Pfc. Marquest Smith said.

He said he ran back into the building twice to help people.

"On my way out of the building, I seen two people -- one was a major and one was a private, both females -- I grabbed them and pulled them outside the door," Smith said.

He said he came across two other victims on his way out.

"They were yelling for help, so I grabbed them by their collars and pulled them outside the door also," he said.

Smith barely avoided being shot himself; a bullet passed through his right boot.

Cone said in a press conference Thursday night that "there was no indication" that the weapons used in the shootings were military weapons. Soldiers at the post do not carry weapons unless they are doing training exercises or something of that nature, he said.

"This is our home," Cone said. "So we do have security guards that are here -- the MPs and the Department of the Army civilian police, but soldiers on Fort Hood do not carry weapons."

He said initial reports indicate that Hasan had two handguns, one of which was a semiautomatic weapon.

A law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity said Hasan legally purchased one of the weapons, a 5.7-millimeter pistol. Hasan bought the FN 5.7, which as been dubbed a "cop killer" by gun-control advocates, at a Killeen gun store.

Another law enforcement official told the AP that the other gun Hasan was carrying was an older model Smith & Wesson .357-caliber revolver. There was nothing to indicate the second weapon was fired, the official said.

"The feedback today from the investigators were, as we asked how many rounds were fired by the suspect, indications are over a hundred rounds," said Army Col. John Rossi, deputy commander at Fort Hood.

Greg Schanepp, U.S. Rep. John Carter's regional director in Texas, was at Fort Hood, said John Stone, a spokesman for the congressman whose district includes the Army post. Schanepp was at a graduation ceremony when a soldier who had been shot in the back came running toward him and alerted him of the shooting, Stone said. The soldier told Schanepp not to go in the direction of the shooter, he said.

The post was locked down for about five hours after the shootings.

Two other soldiers were arrested after the rampage, but were released later, Fort Hood spokesman Christopher Haug told the AP. He said they are not believed to be involved in the incident.

"We believe the evidence indicates that it was a single shooter," Cone said.

THE INJURED

Cone said the victims were from "a number of units" across the post, because Thursday was a make-up day in which people from across the installation were at the SRC going through the readiness process.

Thirteen people were killed and 30 were injured. Rossi said late Friday that 23 people remained hospitalized, about half still in intensive care.

Army briefers told lawmakers in Washington earlier Friday that eight other people were treated at a hospital for stress and trauma.

Scott & White and the American Red Cross have put out a call asking for blood donors.  Find out more about donations here.

THE VICTIMS

The 13 people killed when an Army psychiatrist allegedly opened fire on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, included several people who shared the same profession as the alleged shooter.

The dead included a pregnant woman who was preparing to return home, a man who quit a furniture company job to join the military about a year ago, a newlywed who had served in Iraq and a woman who had vowed to take on Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a father of three with ties to Laos whose family had a history of military service, a civilian who had returned to work a week after suffering a heart attack, and a psychiatric nurse who arrived at Fort Hood a day before the shooting.

Find out more about the victims here.

ABOUT HASAN

A defense official speaking on condition of anonymity told the AP that Hasan is an Army psychiatrist who is single and has no children. Hasan had worked at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for six years before he was transferred to Fort Hood in July, Washington military officials told the AP.

Authorities have not yet identified a possible motive for the rampage.

Hasan was due to be deployed to Afghanistan to help soldiers with combat stress, a task he'd done stateside with returning soldiers, the Army said. Army spokeswoman Col. Cathy Abbott was uncertain when Hasan was to leave but he was in the preparation stage of deployment, which can take months.

The 39-year-old Army psychiatrist emerged as a study in contradictions: a polite man who stewed with discontent, a counselor who needed to be counseled himself, a professional healer now suspected of cutting down the fellow soldiers he was sworn to help.

As a student, some who knew Nidal Malik Hasan said Saturday they saw clear signs the young Army psychiatrist -- who authorities say went on a shooting spree at Fort Hood that left 13 dead and 29 others wounded -- had no place in the military. Find out more here.

"We are shocked and saddened by the terrible events at Fort Hood today," his cousin, Nadar Hasan, said in a statement issued on behalf of their family. "We send the families of the victims our most heartfelt sympathies." Find out more about Hasan here.

OBAMA BRIEFED, DELIVERS REMARKS ON SHOOTING

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama was being kept updated throughout the afternoon as details about the shooting emerged. Gibbs said he told Obama about TV news reports that seven people were dead at the Texas military location and others were injured. Gibbs said he informed Obama based on broadcast reports, and that the president was being kept up-to-date through the White House Situation Room.

Obama asked Americans to keep the people at Fort Hood in their thoughts and prayers.

"It's difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas," Obama said. "It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil.

"My immediate prayers are with the wounded and with the families of the fallen and with those who live and serve at Fort Hood. These are men and women who have made the selfless and courage decision to risk, and at times, give their lives to protect the rest of us on a daily basis."

The president will attend a memorial service Tuesday honoring victims of the shootings. Find out more here.

A TRAGIC REMINDER

As the tragic event began to unfold it became a sharp reminder of the violence felt in that part of the state over the past 30 years.

"Unfortunately this is a day we had dreaded, we are in an emergency situation," said Hilary Shine, with the city of Killeen.  "Every time you hear of a mass casualty situation in Killeen you think of Luby's and 26 people were killed. Here in city hall, it's panic. We all have friends and family members who work or have business on Fort Hood."

"We know the terrible impact and not knowing how it will end is gut wrenching right now," said Shine. "Fort Hood is set up as its own city, they have their own fire, police, SWAT -- they have not requested police assistance from Killeen but they have asked for EMT and ambulance assistance."

Fort Hood has seen other violence in recent years. In September 2008, a 21-year-old 1st Cavalry Division soldier shot his lieutenant to death and then killed himself. Spc. Jody Michael Wirawan of Eagle River, Alaska. shot himself to death after killing 1st Lt. Robert Bartlett Fletcher, 24, of Jensen Beach, Fla.

ABOUT FORT HOOD

Fort Hood is the largest active duty armored post in the United States, and is the only post in the United States that is capable of supporting two complete armored divisions. The cantonment area of Fort Hood is adjacent to Killeen and the "Hill and Lake" country of Texas. The post is home to about 5,000 active duty officers and 45,000 enlisted. Civilian employees total nearly 9,000, MSNBC.com reports. Read more about the post here

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