Patterico's Pontifications

11/5/2009

L.A. Times Fort Hood Story

Filed under: — Patterico @ 11:10 pm

Suspect in Texas base massacre was Army psychiatrist
It is not clear if two soldiers in custody were involved in the attack that left 12 dead and 31 wounded. Major Nidal Malik Hasan, killed by police, had reportedly counseled troops on combat stress.

Reporting from Los Angeles and Washington – At least 12 people were killed and 31 wounded when a U.S. soldier opened fire at the Ft. Hood Army base in Texas, the Army said.

The suspect, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, was killed by police, Army officials said. Two other U.S. soldiers who may have been involved in the attack have been apprehended and are in custody.

Hasan was a mental health professional at the Darnell Army Medical Center at Ft. Hood, an FBI official said.

FBI officials in Washington and in San Antonio said that they had not determined whether Hasan acted alone or in concert with the other two soldiers arrested.

A U.S. official who requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing confirmed that Hasan was recently promoted from captain to major and transferred from Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington to Ft. Hood.

The official expressed disbelief that an Army psychiatrist who regularly counsels soldiers on combat stress had committed the killings.

“It is simply amazing,” the official said.

The official said that he did not know whether Hasan was going to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, and did not know his full service history.

President Obama, speaking on the shooting this afternoon, lamented the attack as a “horrific outburst of violence” and promised justice. “We are going to stay on this,” he said.

“These are men and women who have made the selfless decision” to protect the nation, Obama said of the victims. “It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil.”

The first shooting began around 1:30 p.m. local time at a personnel and medical processing office, said Lt. Col. Nathan Banks, an Army spokesman.

The second incident took place at a theater on the base, Banks said. One official who would not give his name said that a graduation had been scheduled for 2 p.m. at the theater.

The base was locked down after the shootings, and people who live there were told to lock their doors and windows. Security at other military facilities around the nation has reportedly been heightened.

Army officials said they do not know whether the handguns used in the assault were military-issued service weapons or personal weapons.

The rules for carrying weapons on an Army post are standard throughout all bases, service officials said. The only personnel allowed to openly display weapons on the base are military police, Banks said. Service weapons are checked daily and are usually only allowed to be removed from an arms room for training on a range or maintenance. Personal weapons must be kept locked and registered with the base provost marshal. The military police keep a record of all of the weapons on a base, Army officials said.

Ft. Hood, which sprawls across 339 square miles of central Texas hill country, is the world’s largest military installation. It supports two full armored divisions — the 1st Cavalry Division and the 4th Infantry Division — and is home to more than 65,000 soldiers, civilian workers and family members. It is the largest single employer in Texas.

Base personnel have accounted for more suicides than any other Army post since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, with 75 tallied through July of this year. Nine of those suicides occurred in 2009, counting two in overseas war zones.

Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the Army’s deputy chief of staff, has been leading an effort to reduce the number of Army suicides, which has climbed sharply this year, possibly as a result from long and repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Three of the four brigades of the 1st Calvary Division are in Iraq. The three brigades — the first, second and third — are on their third Iraq tour. The division’s newest brigade, the fourth, has done two tours in Iraq, returning most recently in June.

Ft. Hood also is home to three of the brigades of the 4th Infantry Division. The fourth brigade is now in Afghanistan. The first brigade has done three tours in Iraq, returning most recently in March. The second brigade has also done three tours, returning most recently in September.

The military has not released the names of the dead.

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