SWAT team members approach a building where a shooter barricaded in the post's deployment readiness center at Fort Hood, Texas on November 5, 2009. The shooter killed thirteen people and 30 more were wounded in the incident. UPI/Jason R. Krawczyk /U.S. Army | License Photo
FORT HOOD, Texas, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- A U.S. Army psychiatrist who treated soldiers' post-traumatic stress killed 12 people and injured 31 in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, officials said.
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, the alleged shooter, pulled out two guns, one a semi-automatic, and began firing, said Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone, the Fort Hood base commander. Hasan was shot by a civilian police officer and remained hospitalized Thursday night, Cone told reporters late Thursday.
At a news conference at the Central Texas base, Cone did not explain why authorities had reported the alleged gunman dead throughout the day before announcing he was alive.
Most of those killed were soldiers but some could be civilians, and the civilian police officer who returned fire was among those wounded, Cone said. Three others who had initially been held have been released, and authorities concluded Hasan was the only shooter, Cone said.
The commander would not comment on a possible motive or provide details about the suspect.
The shootings occurred in the Soldier Readiness Center, where soldiers prepare to be deployed.
Cone described a chaotic scene in which soldiers were ripping uniforms off their bodies to use the fabric to cover fellow soldiers' wounds. He praised the quick response of soldiers and police.
"I'm sure this could have been much worse, horrible as it was," Cone said.
The commander would not comment on Hasan's condition beyond saying death did not appear "imminent." Nor would he comment on a possible motive except to say he "couldn't rule out" terrorism but that it is not suspected.
Hasan had recently been transferred from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington to Darnell Hospital on the sprawling Fort Hood. He apparently was upset he was about to be deployed to Iraq, some who knew him said.
Nader Hasan told The New York Times his cousin had faced harassment from some colleagues because he is Muslim and that contributed to his misgivings about being deployed. Nidal Hasan is a U.S. citizen of Jordanian descent but it remained unclear whether he was born in the United States, CNN said.
"It is horrifying that (soldiers) should come under fire on an Army base on American soil," President Barack Obama said. "My immediate thoughts and 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 courageous decision to risk and at times give their lives to protect the rest of us on a daily basis."
Obama said the Pentagon, the FBI and the Department of Homeland security were investigating.
Fort Hood, one of the largest U.S. military installations in the world, was on lockdown to incoming and outgoing traffic but the lockdown was lifted late in the day.
The facility, outside Killeen, Texas, is home to 65,000 soldiers and family members, with several thousand soldiers on deployment at any given time. It serves as the home for Headquarters III Corps, First Army Division West, the 1st Cavalry Division, 4th Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade, 13th Corps Support Command, 89th Military Police Brigade, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, 21st Cavalry Brigade (Air Combat), 4th Combat Aviation Brigade and 31st Air Defense Brigade.
On any given day, as many as 30,000 people, including thousands of civilians, are on base, an Army spokesman told CNN.
The sprawling, 340-mile-square facility serves as a processing facility for troops about to be deployed. The processing center where the shootings occurred is where they get last-minute clearance before going to war in Afghanistan or Iraq, an Army spokesman said. The base also is one of the first stops for troops coming back from combat.
Fort Hood is named for John Bell Hood, a Confederate Army general. It has nine schools, lots of civilian housing, malls, a theater and ball fields.