US officer goes on killing spree at army base - Americas - World - The Independent

US officer goes on killing spree at army base

Twelve shot dead and dozens injured at Fort Hood, Texas, after major opens fire

Accustomed to terrible human loss overseas, the United States Army was last night struggling to come to terms with a savage outbreak of violence at home after an officer opened fire on the sprawling Fort Hood military base in Texas, which is at the tip of the spear of regular US troop deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

After hours of confusion when the entire complex – the largest such base in the world – located between Waco and Austin, was on a security lockdown, a military spokesman confirmed that the rampage had ended with the deaths of 12 people and the wounding of 31 others. Most of the injured had been rushed to hospitals across central Texas. The shock that was rippling across the country last night was hardly relieved after the shooter was identified as a trusted officer with medical duties. Officials said that Major Nadal Malik Hasan, a licensed doctor and psychiatrist, was shot and wounded by military police at the scene but not before he had extinguished the lives of 12 people. Military sources added that two other soldiers were apprehended after the slaughter, though by dusk last night one had been released. There was no information on what role the second may have had in the killings if any. Hasan opened fire, they said, with two handguns. There was no reason he should have been bearing arms as a doctor.

Major Hasan, said to be 39 years old, allegedly opened fire at roughly 1.30 pm, Texas time, inside a personnel processing building formally known as the Soldier Rating and Processing Center. It is a building soldiers routinely pass through while getting ready to deploy. However, at least one of the victims, was identified as a civilian.

A motive for the shooting was hard to pin down last night. However, there were reports that Hasan, who was trained also in psychiatry and medicine in Bethesda, Maryland, was preparing for deployment to Iraq and was not happy to be going there. He had previously worked at the Walter Reed veterans hospital outside Washington.

There have been six incidents on the ground in Iraq since the start of the conflict when US troops have been felled by one of their own with the loss of 14 lives. Last May, a soldier opened fire on fellow soldiers in a medical facility at Camp Liberty outside Baghdad killing five.

Lt General Bob Cone spoke to reporters on the perimeter of the base. "We have had a terrible tragedy at Fort Hood today. The situation is ongoing but we are very close to a resolution," he said, almost three hours after the first shots were fired.

"The numbers that we are looking at are 12 dead and 31 wounded." The wounded were being treated in hospitals across central Texas, he said.

The shooting will rekindle debate about the strains that have been placed for years on the US military community after eight years of conflict in Afghanistan and almost as many years in Iraq. For months, military leaders have been seeking ways to monitor the mental health of soldiers precisely to guard against such deadly tragedies. Fort Hood is home to a programme set up to help returning soldiers cope with stress incurred by warfare.

In Washington aides kept President Barack Obama abreast of developments at the huge complex that includes housing areas and several schools. Mr Obama called the shootings "horrifying". Attending a conference on Native American rights, he added: "My immediate thoughts and prayers are with the wounded and with the families of those who have fallen... we will make sure we get answers to every single question about this horrible incident".

For soldiers who are trained to face possible injury or worse while deployed abroad, there was no emotional preparation for the shock of such an indiscriminate act of mass killing taking place on US soil and indeed within the confines of one of their own bases where they would have considered themselves entirely safe.

"I am horrified just like everyone else," Kay Bailey Hutchinson, a US Senator for Texas, said of the killings. "This is a base that has sent people time and time again to Iraq and now to Afghanistan. They have borne a lot of the responsibility for the war on terror and for this to happen at this particular base is heartbreaking."

As many as 500 military personnel were mobilised at one stage to conduct a sweep of the base to ensure its security. Witnesses on the edge of the facility meanwhile saw ambulances coming and going from the main entrance and helicopters landing inside it to ferry the severely wounded to nearby hospitals.

Members of families were also assembled on parking lots on the edge of the base trying to determine whether any of their loved ones may have been hurt or killed in the shootings.

Fort Hood has close to 50,000 soldiers assigned to it. In addition, it is home to many military families. As well as sending solders into harm's way in war zones – no other military base in the US has lost more men and women in Iraq than Fort Hood – it has seen many wounded soldiers returning from war.

Fort Hood: The world's largest military base

* Fort Hood, near Austin, Texas, is the world's largest military installation, occupying 340 square kilometres.

* It is home to more than 65,000 soldiers, civilian personnel and family members.

* Two armoured divisions are based there, and up to 40,000 US troops.

* It was opened in 1942, as a place to test anti-tank guns that were crucial to combating German blitzkrieg tactics.

* 75 troops at the base have committed suicide between the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and July this year – more than at any other army post.

* The base is home to III Corps, the official counteroffensive force, who are known as "America's Hammer."

* In January 2003, then President George W Bush addressed 4,500 troops at the base, and told them to be ready for war.

* The base's Fourth Infantry Division captured Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Programme Test Manager

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush, London

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush...

Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Full time German Supply Teacher...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week