Fort Hood shooting leaves 4 dead, 16 wounded
A soldier opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol Wednesday at Fort Hood — the scene of a mass shooting in 2009 — killing three servicemembers and wounding 16 others before fatally shooting himself.
The suspect, who had recently transferred to the central Texas base, began shooting at about 4 p.m. CDT, according to Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, commanding general of Fort Hood. He was assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
The gunman entered two buildings — the medical and transportation brigades — and also fired his pistol from a vehicle, according to Milley.
“The shooter is dead,” said Milley during his news conference at the base. There is no indication of the shooting being terrorism related but nothing has been formally ruled out, he said.
The violence ended after 15 or 20 minutes, when a female military police officer engaged the suspect, who then shot himself in the head.
"It was clearly heroic, what she did," said Milley of the officer, who added he expects nothing else of his military police.
All of the wounded are being treated at nearby Scott and White Memorial Hospital or at Carl R. Darnall Medical Center on Fort Hood. Three patients at SWM are in critical condition and five are in serious condition, the hospital said after 10 p.m. local time.
Besides gunshot wounds, some of the injuries sustained were from broken glass and one person was hurt jumping over a fence.
The gunman was not identified due to next-of-kin notifications but Milley did say that the suspect had “behavior and mental health issues."
According to Milley, the soldier was currently being evaluated for PTSD and investigators were looking at reports of a self-reported traumatic brain injury from serving four months in Iraq in 2011.
The full background investigation into the suspect is still ongoing, the base general said, but he did reveal that the servicemember was married and that his family was in the area. Milley also said the .45-caliber pistol used in the shooting was recently purchased locally and that the suspect was not authorized to carry a concealed weapon.
The Fort Hood military post was the site of a mass shooting in November 2009, when U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 and wounded more than 30 people at a base pre-deployment clinic. Hasan was found guilty of premeditated murder last summer and sentenced to death.
Speaking from Hawaii, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called the shooting a “terrible tragedy.”
"My sympathies go out to this strong and resilient community, which has experienced this kind of senseless violence all too recently," he said.
Calling for prayers on behalf of the entire Fort Hood community, President Barack Obama said the soldiers and families there “have sacrificed so much on behalf of our freedom.
“Many of the people there have been through multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. They served with valor and they served with distinction, and when they’re at their home base, they need to feel safe.”
“Obviously this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago,” the president said from Chicago.
The post was immediately placed on lockdown and only given the all clear at about 9 p.m. CDT.
There are 65,000 military and family members living on the base, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. An Army recruiting website says Fort Hood has the biggest population among stateside bases.
Local, federal and military authorities are working together in the investigation.
After 13 years of wartime combat, Milley said he knows the Fort Hood community is strong and resilient.
“We will get through this,” he said.
--Audrea Huff contributed to this report