FORT HOOD, Texas Military officials were starting Friday to piece together what may have pushed an Army psychiatrist trained to help soldiers in distress to turn on his comrades in a shooting rampage that killed 13 people and wounded 30 in Texas.
The suspected shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, was on a ventilator and unconscious in a hospital after being shot four times during the shootings at the Army’s sprawling Fort Hood, post officials said. In the early chaos after the shootings, authorities believed they had killed him, only to discover later that he had survived.
In Washington, a senior U.S. official said authorities at Fort Hood initially thought one of the victims who had been shot and killed was the shooter. The mistake resulted in a delay of several hours in identifying Hasan as the alleged assailant. See pictures of suicide in recruiters’ ranks.
Authorities have not ruled out that Hasan was acting on behalf of some unidentified radical group, the official said. He would not say whether any evidence had come to light to support that theory.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters that were under investigation.
Officials are not ruling out the possibility that some of the casualties may have been victims of “friendly fire,” that in the mayhem and confusion at the shooting scene some of the responding military officials may have shot some of the victims.
The gunfire broke out around 1:30 p.m. at the Soldier Readiness Center, where soldiers who are about to be deployed or who are returning undergo medical screening. Nearby, some soldiers were readying to head into a graduation ceremony for troops and families who had recently earned degrees.
Pastor Greg Schannep had just parked his car along the side of the theater and was about to head into the ceremony when a man in uniform approached him. “Sir, they are opening fire over there!” the man told him. At first, he thought it was a training exercise then heard three volleys and saw people running. As the man who warned him about the shots ran away, he could see the man’s back was bloodied from a wound.
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Schannep said police and medical and other emergency personnel were on the scene in an instant, telling people to get inside the theater. The post went into lockdown while a search began for a suspect and emergency workers began trying to treat the wounded. Some soldiers rushed to treat their injured colleagues by ripping their uniforms into makeshift bandages to treat their wounds.
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