Breaking: Massacre at Fort Hood; Update: Feds tracked Hasan’s posts online for six months? Update: Surveillance video added
No word yet on motive, but the fact that at least three gunmen are involved already has Shuster and Miklaszewski mentioning similarities to the Fort Dix Six plot on MSNBC. Seven dead, 12 wounded so far. Supposedly two of the gunmen are still at large and one has fired shots at the SWAT team on the scene.
Stand by for updates.
Update: New details from CNN: One gunman “neutralized,” one “cornered,” no word on the third. The shooting happened at the “sports dome,” a.k.a. the soldier readiness station.
Update: Whether there are two shooters or three seems to be in dispute at the moment, but there’s certainly more than one: The second shooting on the base evidently occurred at a theater.
Update: M-16s involved:
At least seven people have been killed and at least 12 more wounded in a mass shooting at Fort Hood Army Base near Killeen, Texas, that apparently began minutes before a graduation ceremony was to begin at a base sports complex, Pentagon officials said.
Details of the events were sketchy, but officials said the shooting involved two men with M-16 rifles and began about 1:30 p.m. Central time at Howze Theater on the base, then moved to the sports complex, where the graduation ceremony was scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. It was not immediately clear who the ceremony was honoring.
Update: Fox News says there are reports that the men were dressed in fatigues.
Update: Hearing reports on Twitter that there have been shootings in the parking lot of some store in Killeen, the town adjacent in Fort Hood. Grain of salt, though: I haven’t seen anything like that on the wires.
Update: One of the shooters is alive and in custody. We should have a motive soon.
Update: MSNBC TV says two shooters are in custody now.
Update: CNN now says the death toll is nine.
Update: MSNBC’s story has been updated to say that four SWAT members were wounded in the shootout with the gunmen.
Update: Am hearing via Twitter that Fort Hood’s public affairs office says the earlier reports of a third shooter were wrong and were based on a second eyewitness report of the second shooter. Which means everyone’s in custody now.
Update: Heavy suspicions of a fragging grow heavier still. From Chuck Todd’s Twitter account: “More from NBC’s Pete Williams: US official says early reports are the man in custody is in the military, late 30s, with officer rank.”
Update: Good lord — there’s a report from BNO News on Twitter that new shooting is being heard on the base. Nothing on the wires yet. Big grain of salt.
Update: Press conference being held now. 12 dead, 31 wounded. No idea of motive yet but it sounds like both shooters are military. Or rather, were: One of the shooters is dead.
Update: Okay, wait, I misunderstood: According to MSNBC, there were three shooters. One is dead, two more are in custody. Has there ever been a case of “battle stress” that involved a conspiracy by multiple people?
Update: From the local Fox affiliate, how it all went down. Evidently McClatchy’s report of M-16s was wrong:
According to officials, a soldier carrying two handguns opened fire at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Soldier Readiness Center at the post in Killeen, Texas.
“It would be an environment that would be very susceptible to casualties or injuries,” Killeen City Manager Connie Green said.
Officials said the gunman was shot and killed after quick response from security officers.
At least two other soldiers were taken into custody.
Update: Hmmmm: “A senior administration official told NBC News analyst Roger Cressey that the suspect who was in custody was an Army major with an Arabic-sounding name. The official said 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.”
Update: The suspect’s name, via ABC: Major Malik Nadal Hasan.
The suspected gunman was identified as Major Malik Nadal Hasan. He was killed and two other suspects have been apprehended, Lt. Robert W. Cone said.
The gunman used two handguns, Cone said. He wasn’t sure if the shooter reloaded the weapons during the attack.
The general called the attack “a terrible tragedy, stunning.” He said the community was “absolutely devastated.”
According to Brian Ross at ABC, Hasan was a convert to Islam.
Update: In case you’re wondering whether the other two soldiers in custody were actual accomplices or just being questioned because they knew Hasan, Rick Perry just said at the presser he’s holding that all three were shooters.
Update: CBS reports that Hasan was a licensed psychiatrist in Maryland, of all things. Meanwhile, Kay Bailey Hutchison apparently has info that Hasan was upset about being deployed to Iraq. Which, without further specifics as to why, doesn’t tell us much given the possible motives in play.
Update: This story deserves its own post but an update here will have to do: Remember that census worker who was found hanged, allegedly with the word “Fed” scrawled on his chest, which was of course instantly the fault of bloodthirsty wingnuts everywhere? The AP reports today that investigators increasingly doubt he was murdered and are looking now at suicide. Just something to bear in mind when the tut-tutting over making assumptions about Hasan begins tomorrow.
Update: Per the last update, here’s another reminder of why it’s always a bad idea to speculate too much: Contra Brian Ross, the AP says it’s unclear what Hasan’s religion was or whether he was a convert.
Update: And yet another reminder: Hearing rumblings on Twitter right now that Perry was wrong and that the two other “suspects” have now been released. Was Hasan, in fact, a lone gunman? If so, how’d those four SWAT members end up wounded? Surely he didn’t surprise them all after they arrived on the scene.
Update: Something else worth flagging re: the tut-tutting about motives and speculation: The media had no problem today, even in its earliest reports on the shooting, noting how many soldiers have suffered from combat stress. In fact, apparently, it was one of the ways Charlie Gibson framed his report on tonight’s ABC News.
Update: If Hasan was a lone gunman, how could the general at his presser earlier say there were eyewitness accounts of more than one gunman? And if neither of the two suspects in custody are that other gunman, then where is he?
Update: Of the 11 killed (beside Hasan), 10 were soldiers and one was a cop.
Update: For what it’s worth, an eyewitness report of Arabic being shouted during the attack:
Hunt said his son told him he loaded up many of the wounded and drove them to the hospital. The wounded relayed what they saw inside when the shooting happened.
“They were telling him that one guy was shouting something in Arabic while he was shooting,” Tom Hunt said. “He couldn’t say much more than that.”
Update: No mention of shouting in this eyewitness report, though:
George Stratton’s son George Stratton III was five feet away from the shooter at the Soldier Readiness Center and suffered a gunshot wound to his left shoulder.
“He said he was there doing medical stuff and all of a sudden someone came through the door, walked behind the desk and just started shooting,” Stratton told FoxNews.com.
He said about 15 rounds went off and people started dropping to the floor.
“He peaked up over the desk and that’s when he was shot in the shoulder, and he just went down again. He said he saw one of his NCOs get badly shot,” Stratton told FoxNews.com after talking to his son in the hospital.
Update: Hasan’s performance evaluation while at Walter Reed was, perhaps not surprisingly, a poor one.
Update: Lots of buzz on Twitter about Shep Smith’s interview with a colleague of Hasan’s who claims he was known to say things about standing up to the American aggressors in the Middle East. I can’t find a clip or print account, though. If you see one, please e-mail it to our tips account; I don’t have time to follow the comments below.
Update: Local news is reporting that one of the wounded has died. 12 now besides Hasan.
Update: Apparently, one of Hasan’s cousins just told Shep that he’s always been Muslim, not a recent convert.
Update: So much for the “combat stress” theory: ABC News reports that his upcoming deployment to Iraq would have been Hasan’s first.
Update: Here’s the Shep interview with Ret. Col. Terry Lee alleging that Hasan thought Muslims should stand up and fight the “aggressor” and that he was “happy” about the shooting in Little Rock. Apparently Hasan was also increasingly agitated by the fact that Obama hasn’t pulled out of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Update: The two suspects detained earlier were released, but according to Rep. John Carter, another one was just hauled in.
Update: Here’s another Shep interview that people are buzzing about, this one with Hasan’s cousin. The cousin says Hasan decided after 9/11 that he didn’t want to deploy overseas, that he heard horrific stories from returning soldiers, and that he was harassed by other troops.
Update: The circumstantial evidence mounts. This certainly jibes with what Terry Lee told Shep:
Federal law enforcement officials say the suspected Fort Hood, Texas, shooter had come to their attention at least six months ago because of Internet postings that discussed suicide bombings and other threats.
The officials say the postings appeared to have been made by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who was killed during the shooting incident that left least 11 others dead and 31 wounded. The officials say they are still trying to confirm that he was the author. They say an official investigation was not opened…
One of the Web postings that authorities reviewed is a blog that equates suicide bombers with a soldier throwing himself on a grenade to save the lives of his comrades.
The $64,000 questions: What was he doing at Fort Hood among the population if he thought suicide bombers were heroes? And why are the feds tipping the AP about this if they haven’t even confirmed that he was the author yet?
Update: Another good question from Andy Levy: “If Hassan got poor performance evaluations, why was he promoted to Major in May?” Also, why didn’t they grant him a discharge if what his cousin said is true about him not wanting to deploy since 9/11? Why did they keep this guy around? Fox could track down Terry Lee in a few hours to have him talk about Hasan urging Muslims to stand up to America, but the Army couldn’t do it in a few years?
Update: Here’s what Hasan supposedly wrote about suicide bombers:
“To say that this soldier committed suicide is inappropriate. Its more appropriate to say he is a brave hero that sacrificed his life for a more noble cause,” said the Internet posting. “Scholars have paralled (sic) this to suicide bombers whose intention, by sacrificing their lives, is to help save Muslims by killing enemy soldiers.”
Update: So poor and fragmented have the early media reports about this been that only now, after 9 p.m. ET, do we learn that … Hasan’s still alive. He’s in stable condition. And, according to the general conducting the briefing going on right now, he appears to be a lone gunman.
Update: This appears to be Hasan’s original Internet posting about suicide bombers in full. Quote:
There was a grenade thrown amongs a group of American soldiers. One of the soldiers, feeling that it was to late for everyone to flee jumped on the grave with the intention of saving his comrades. Indeed he saved them. He inentionally took his life (suicide) for a noble cause i.e. saving the lives of his soldier. To say that this soldier committed suicide is inappropriate. Its more appropriate to say he is a brave hero that sacrificed his life for a more noble cause. Scholars have paralled this to suicide bombers whose intention, by sacrificing their lives, is to help save Muslims by killing enemy soldiers. If one suicide bomber can kill 100 enemy soldiers because they were caught off guard that would be considered a strategic victory. Their intention is not to die because of some despair. The same can be said for the Kamikazees in Japan. They died (via crashing their planes into ships) to kill the enemies for the homeland. You can call them crazy i you want but their act was not one of suicide that is despised by Islam. So the scholars main point is that “IT SEEMS AS THOUGH YOUR INTENTION IS THE MAIN ISSUE” and Allah (SWT) knows best.
Update: A military reader e-mails to answer Andy Levy’s question of why even a poor officer would be promoted:
I served in the Air Force as a psychologist. I believe the way the rank works within in the medical corp is similar in the Army. If you were a medical officer, you had to try very hard to not make rank. They are not even required to go through much of the Military Education in order to make rank (a luxury other officers did not have). I had a friend who was a psychiatrist who went through the same medical program this Army Major went through (based on the years I’ve heard reported, they may have overlapped one another to some extent). When you go through this program, you owe 10-13 years for medical school and residency (maybe more, depending on any additional training you go through). The military will get there commitment back. My friend did his medical school, residency, and a fellowship in child psychiatry and he owed something like 17 years. He made LtCol without any effort. In fact, he often laughed about it, like he got it for his MD and breathing. Another Air Force psychiatrist friend of mine hates being in the USAF and is not quiet about it (though certainly not in the same way as this Army Major): has had many disciplinary problems, including having suspended credentials in our hospital; and in the midst of this, made Major. Go figure.
Update: The media Narrative on this story is congealing as we speak. Assume you’re an eager beaver reporter who’s as anti-war as the next fellow in the newsroom. How do you frame a story about a murderous lunatic who’s never been deployed overseas to serve your agenda? Why, this way of course: “Fort Hood has felt strain of repeated deployments”.
Update: WaPo reports that Hasan is “very devout”:
Hasan attended the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring and was “very devout,” according to Faizul Khan, a former imam at the center. Khan said Hasan attended prayers at least once a day, seven days a week, often in his Army fatigues.
Khan also said Hasan applied to an annual matrimonial seminar that matches Muslims looking for spouses. “I don’t think he ever had a match, because he had too many conditions,” Khan said.
“We never got into details of worldly affairs or politics,” the former imam said of his conversations with Hasan. “Mostly religious questions. But there was nothing extremist in his questions. He never showed any frustration. . . . He never showed any . . . wish for vengeance on anybody.”
Update: More devotion: “A former neighbor of Hasan’s in Silver Spring, Md. told Fox News he lived there for two years with his brother and had the word ‘Allah’ on the door.”
Update: So here’s where we are right now, near 11 p.m. ET. This guy raged about Muslims standing up to aggressors, praised suicide bombers, and the lead theory in the media is … PTSD? For a guy who’s … never been deployed? A friend just e-mailed me with a good question: Even if he was suffering from some type of trauma from listening to vets’ war stories, shouldn’t a shrink trained in dealing with trauma been able to diagnose himself and seek treatment?
Update: And now a little more about just how devout he was, this time from NPR:
A source tells NPR’s Joseph Shapiro that Hasan was put on probation early in his postgraduate work at the Uniformed Service University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. He was disciplined for proselytizing about his Muslim faith with patients and colleagues, according to the source, who worked with him at the time.
I’m hearing on Twitter that Fox interviewed one of his neighbors within the last half-hour or so and that the neighbor claims Hasan was handing out Korans just this morning. Does anyone have video? Or is this a bad lead? Smells fishy to me but multiple people have mentioned it.
Update: Ryan Lewis offers this transcript: “Brenda Price of KUSJ reported to Greta at 10:33: ‘also, the latest I am hearing, this morning, apparently according to his neighbors, he was walking around kind of giving out his possessions, giving away his furniture, handing out the Koran…'” Sounds like her information is secondhand. Grain of salt.
Update: Credit to WaPo for looking at Hasan’s religious background despite the flak they’ll take for it. New details:
He steered clear of female colleagues, co-workers said, and despite devout religious practices, listed himself in Army records as having no religious preference…
“He came to mosque one or two times to see if there were any suitable girls to marry,” Khan said. “I don’t think he ever had a match, because he had too many conditions. He wanted a girl who was very religious, prays five times a day.”…
A co-worker at Walter Reed said Hasan would not allow his photo to be taken with female co-workers, which became an issue during Christmas season when employees often took group photos. Co-workers would find a solo photo of Hasan and post it on the bulletin board without his permission.
Update: Ah, here’s a source for the Koran story told on Greta: “News Channel 25’s Henry Rosoff has learned the Hasan, was giving all of his furniture along with copies of the Qu’ ran to neighbors Thursday morning.”
Update: Evidently CNN is airing surveillance footage from a convenience store camera taken this just morning showing Hasan in a traditional Muslim cap and robe. Supposedly, according to an employee, he talked about his deployment and said he didn’t want to kill other Muslims. I’ll update with the clip once they post it.
Update: Here’s the clip. I think this is it for tonight.