Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Massacre at Fort Hood, Texas
Aired November 5, 2009 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back.
We continue to follow the breaking news. Expanded coverage in the wake of the massacre at Fort Hood, Texas: the deadliest shooting ever at an American military base. Twelve killed, the suspected gunman wounded but not dead as previously thought. Said to be in stable condition.
Investigators would like to ask that man a lot of questions. It's not clear whether he will give any answers, however. The commander of Fort Hood just said while he can't rule out terrorism, at this point there is no indication this has any link to terrorism.
This man, the suspect, is an American Muslim, born in the United States, an Army major, a psychiatrist about to be sent overseas. His first overseas posting, it would have been; he was against the war according to one person who used to work with him.
A relative says he was a good American but, again, against the war in Iraq says a former colleague. Upset he was for the first time going to be sent to Iraq according to a U.S. Senator. And reportedly known to authorities for at least the last six months because of alleged Internet postings he had made on a site about suicide bombings.
So what happened today exactly? What happened in this man's mind? We're going have extensive coverage in this hour and the next hour.
Ed Lavandera's at Fort Hood; he has the latest. Tom Foreman has the beat by beat, step-by-step chronology as we know it. Randi Kaye tells us more about this alleged shooter; his background, work-related problems -- and it seems like there are a lot of them -- and his job, counseling soldiers battling substance abuse and post-traumatic stress. We're going to speak with one of his former patient.
And Brian Todd at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, where the suspected gunman worked for years before being transferred to Fort Hood.
First up tonight: new sound and pictures from Fort Hood as this nightmare played out. This information is coming now from all directions.
Tonight, we've managed to connect with an Army specialist. His name is Eric Blohm. He lives in military housing outside the gate at Fort Hood. He is a combat medic; he was on base when the shooting happened. His wife Diana was at home, shot this video as the emergency unfolded. This is what it looked from her vantage point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(VIDEO OF POST AT FORT HOOD JUST AFTER SHOOTING SPREE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Attention, take shelter immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As we said, Specialist Blohm was on base at the time. He's a medic. We're going to try and talk with him shortly.
More now on the late we're receiving; details that began with tonight blockbuster revelation about the alleged shooter. A man we all thought for much of the day was dead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GEN. ROBERT CONE, U.S. ARMY: The investigation is on going but preliminary reports indicate there was a single shooter that was shot multiple times at the scene. However, he was not killed as previously reported. He's currently in custody and in stable condition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The killings happened just after lunch time in Fort Hood Soldiers Readiness Center. This is where troops get their final medical checks before heading into combat. It's also where they make out their wills. And today it's where 12 people died, allegedly killed by Major Nidal Malik Hasan.
Ed Lavandera's at Fort Hood right where developments have been coming in all day and all night. Ed, what are we hearing now?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're getting a little bit better description of the room and the area where this took place. According to the lieutenant general here at Fort Hood, he described it as a small room, a place where other soldiers unarmed. They're not accustomed to carrying their own weapons as they move around this army post which is considered their home. And that's why they don't walk around armed.
But this is a place where the soldiers would have come for medical checkups, dental checkups and that sort of thing. That's where Hasan is alleged to have come in there and started blasting.
One of the reasons they say that so many people were wounded that lieutenant general says one of the weapons he was using was a semiautomatic weapon which is able to explain why he was able to get off so many rounds before being gunned down himself -- Anderson.
COOPER: And at this point now, the lockdown is no longer in effect. People can come and go. But obviously, there is a heightened state of security on the base.
Hasan is alive, we know that. But at this hour, he's not talking.
LAVANDERA: That's according to the lieutenant general here who said that even though in his words his death is not imminent, that he is surrounded by guards at a hospital. He was pressed repeatedly for more details about Hasan, what he might have said, what his actions might have been leading up to the shooting. The lieutenant general would not comment any further about Hasan, Anderson. Basically, we understand that he is at that hospital under guard but not talking.
COOPER: And he worked at Darnall Hospital, which is about a mile away from where the actual shooting took place, correct?
LAVANDERA: That's my understanding. And I think as other people have pointed out throughout the night, this is a massive complex that we're talking about. The portion that we're at is kind of the entrance into the main part of the post here. But this is a massive complex that is Fort Hood, hundreds of acres.
COOPER: And so much sadness and questions; So many questions on that base tonight. Ed, appreciate your reporting. We'll continue to check in with you throughout this hour.
Let's look now more about the suspect. What do we know at this hour? Major Nidal Hasan, we know his name. We know he was born here in this country, an American Muslim; reportedly known to authorities for the last six months.
His cousin has released this statement and it reads:
"As Nidal Hasan's first cousin and because his parents are no longer alive, I wanted to issue a statement on behalf of my family. We are shocked and saddened by the terrible events at Fort Hood. We send the families of the victims our most heartfelt sympathies. We, like most of America, know very few details at this time.
Here's what we do know about our cousin. Nidal was an American citizen, born in Arlington, Virginia and raised here in America. He attended local high schools, eventually went on to attend Virginia Tech.
We're filled with grief for the families of today's victims. Our family loves America. We are proud of our country and saddened by today's tragedy. Because this situation is still unfolding, we've nothing else that we are able to share with you at this time."
Randi Kaye has been working her sources, trying to flesh out the picture of this alleged mass killer.
Randi at this point, the pictures kind of taking shape but some contradictory reports; some saying that he had received anti-Muslim harassment according to one family member, his cousin, telling "The New York Times" that. But then also former colleague of his saying that he himself used to, you know, come up with statements that angered many of his fellow officers, fellow service members about the war in Iraq.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are learning much more about him, Anderson. We now know that Major Nidal Malik Hasan may not have been a stranger to authorities.
Six months ago, as you mentioned, according to media reports, the FBI had an eye on the suspected shooter because of Internet postings that discussed suicide bombings and other threats.
Well, we found his blog and his writings titled "Martyrdom in Islam versus Suicide Bombing." That's it right there. And one Web posting reads, "Suicide bombings themselves are the invention of non Muslims." That's a quote from the blog. Another equate suicide bombers with a soldier throwing himself on a grenade to save the lives of his comrades.
And we're not the only ones looking for this blog apparently. One blogger who visited the site wrote, "Just wondering, you are the same Nidal Hasan who murdered American soldiers at Fort Hood?" That was one of the postings -- Anderson.
COOPER: And in terms of motive, I mean are we any closer this hour?
KAYE: Well, here's what we know right now. A federal official says Hasan is a U.S. Citizen of Jordanian descent. His cousin told reporters and the media that Hasan has, quote, "always been a Muslim and is not a recent convert." He described him as a good American and said had Hasan had been harassed for being Middle Eastern by some of those in the military.
The cousin said Hasan was trying to leave the military and did not want to be sent to Iraq. Now one of his colleagues, a colonel at Fort Hood, told some members of the media that Hasan has said things like, "Maybe the Muslim should step up and fight against the aggressors." And even suggested people should strap bombs on themselves and go into Times Square in New York City.
This colonel told media that Hasan grew more agitated when President Obama chose not to pull out troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.
And there's more, actually, Anderson. Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison told CNN that Hasan was supposed to be deployed to Iraq later this month. She also said he was unhappy about it and had been targeting and shooting people that he knew.
COOPER: What do we know about his professional career? I mean I know he was a psychiatrist in the military. He kind of seemed to have had problems in the past.
KAYE: He sure did. We've been gathering some of the paperwork. We looked at his military record. It says he's a 39-year-old psychiatrist and Army mental health professional. He's licensed in Virginia, had previously worked at Walter Reed Army Medical Center where he reportedly received a poor service evaluation. Most recently, he was practicing at Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood. We know that he studied biochemistry at Virginia Tech University. And if you take a look at this photo that we found from his medical profile taken just a couple of years ago, it shows that he was a Fellow in disaster and preventive psychiatry at the F. Edward Herbert School of Medicine.
We also looked at his medical license from the Virginia Board of Medicine. And, Anderson, it shows years in active clinical practice inside the U.S. and in his case, marked next to that, it says less than one year.
And also, I do want to mention we confirmed that through Hasan's military record that he is not married and does not have any children.
COOPER: All right. We're going to continue to follow the breaking news coverage. We'll talk with Randi later.
Let us know what you think about this case. Your thoughts and you prayers for the family members involved. Join the live chat now under way at ac360.com.
Just ahead: how this all unfolded. What we know step-by-step. The remarkable acts of bravery under fire by troops who never expected to see combat here in America. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We're back with our breaking news coverage, the mass murder at Fort Hood. The suspected killer is alive right now in a hospital bed, surrounded by guards, wounded, expected to recover.
And before the break, we showed you some video taken by an army medic's wife. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(VIDEO OF POST AT FORT HOOD JUST AFTER SHOOTING SPREE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Attention, take shelter immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That video shot by Diana Blohm, wife of Specialist Eric Blohm who was on base at the time.
Specialist Blohm joins us by phone now.
Specialist, thanks for being with us. This video that your wife shot, we hear the loudspeaker, the voice which -- I guess is kind of a base wide alert system that was instituted after 9/11 -- is that something you heard where you were as well?
ERIC BLOHM, ARMY SPECIALIST AT FORT HOOD, TEXAS (via telephone): Well, I wasn't really hearing it in the hospital. But from where my wife was, obviously you can see that she heard it all over where we live and also you can hear it all throughout the base. But in the hospital, of course, I couldn't hear it.
COOPER: So where she was, did she then seek safety? It looks like she was kind of staying by the side of the wall not going near the windows as the announcement suggests.
BLOHM: That's correct.
COOPER: And in -- what was the scene in the hospital?
BLOHM: Well, in the hospital we had first gotten word that there was a possible massacre going on and to expect mass casualties coming to the hospital. And being up in the labor and delivery ward where I work, we weren't expecting too much right off the bat.
But what we had planned was that ER and the ICU and all the other ORs are over-packed, and that they needed additional assistance. We would be able to take in a few victims into our ORs where we normally do a C-section and all that emergency deliveries. And we ended up taking in one victim.
COOPER: One victim came to Darnall.
BLOHM: And we were able to save her life.
COOPER: You were able to save her life. That's amazing. That's fantastic.
Is --- the suspect worked at the same medical center that you work at. Did you know him at all? Have you seen him at all?
BLOHM: I did not know the suspect personally.
COOPER: Ok. And how long were you guys in lockdown for?
BLOHM: We were in lockdown for probably about an hour and a half and then 1:30 to 2:00. We stayed in lockdown until 7:30 or 8:00 at night.
COOPER: You're obviously prepared to encounter violence in war zones. You're a medic. But to see this kind of thing, you know, literally in your backyard where you live from an American officer, what's this day been like?
BLOHM: Well, I can say personally I'm pretty shocked and bewildered. You know, it pretty much was right here in my backyard. And generally speaking for everyone, you know, going to war and experiencing, you know, combat overseas, I mean and then having to come home and have your sense of security stripped from you after coming home from a war zone is just kind of unreal.
COOPER: Have you been in this processing center, this readiness center where basically, you know, folks get -- it's sort of the last stop before folks are deployed overseas. Have you been there? What's it like?
BLOHM: I actually have been there. At the facility that this happened, I was actually there earlier in the year when I was deployed from Iraq. But it's a pretty semi-open area. There's a couple of rooms to go into where they would brief you and whatnot. But for most part, it's a pretty closed-in area.
COOPER: How many times have you been overseas, Eric?
BLOHM: I've only been overseas once.
COOPER: Once. In Iraq?
COOPER: In terms of what happens now, I mean what are the questions that you just personally want to get answered?
BLOHM: Pretty much the same questions as, you know, anyone else would have. I mean, of course, the motive behind everything. Just what would cause someone, you know, to want to do something like this especially to people that are about to be deployed -- getting ready to deploy. It's just, you know -- it's hard. It's mind-numbing. It is hard to believe.
COOPER: Yes. I mean it's a punch to the gut. And it just doesn't make any sense at this hour. Specialist Eric Blohm, I appreciate talking to you and thank your wife Diana for taking the video and letting us put it on the air.
Thank you for your service and certainly our thoughts and prayers are with you as well, go out to all those who are suffering tonight; the family members of the 12 fallen, as well as the 31 wounded who are now in hospitals in various states. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them.
We're going to have more now on Dr. Hasan, his possible motive and the question, of course, why. Why did this guy, this Army doctor -- if it's true, if he is the shooter -- why would a man born and raised in the United States allegedly open fire today killing 12 people of his fellow soldiers before being wounded himself? Shot multiple times, we're told.
Let's talk about possible motives and the latest in the investigation; with me now again, Brian Todd and CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend.
And Fran, as we were talking about before, when we talk about motives, it really is a question of what was in his mind. Was in his mind this a conscious act of terror of somehow making some sort of statement or pay back? Or was this sort of an incident of workplace violence, of anger against individuals as Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison earlier had said that according to somebody she had heard the Military at this base that he was targeting people he knew.
Whether or not that's true, we simply don't know. We haven't been able to independently confirm that or talk to her again. She's been traveling. So there's a lot of questions about what was happening in this man's head. And, again, we may not know for a long time or ever if he chooses not to talk.
FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, that's right, Anderson. And when you're wondering what's in his mind, the question is was it his only -- what was in his mind or was he manipulated or influenced by others, you know, did he have some outside influence?
One of the key things here will be whether or not he's willing to talk to the FBI and to the investigators. Part of what we've got to sort of appreciate now is he is wounded. He's probably medicated. This would not be the time to talk to him. And he wouldn't be in a position to waive his right to counsel right now.
So the next 24 hours will be very telling as to whether or not he's willing to explain what his intentions are because, of course, if you want to get inside his mind, the best place to go is to talk to him.
COOPER: Also, Fran, a strange story that local station had reported according to his neighbors; they had been saying that he was giving away furniture earlier today which, if true, could be an indication of some sort of, you know, giving away possessions is a sign of some sort of decision that one has made. Or there could be, you know, nothing more to it than he was emptying out his garage. We simply don't know.
We have a crew over there. We're trying to confirm it for ourselves. But certainly a lot of questions remain.
Brian Todd, you've been over at Walter Reed where he worked. What you have learned over there?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we learned that he's been here for quite some time. He spent six years here at Walter Reed Army Medical Center doing his internship, his residency and his fellowship here in psychiatry. He just moved from here. He was transferred from here to Darnall Medical Center at Fort Hood in July of this year.
He spent a good part of his career here after going to medical school not far away from here at the Uniform Services University of Health Science, also called USUHS (ph).
There is a report in another media outlet, the Associated Press, one doctor who served with Hasan here, quoted as saying that he had some difficulties here at Walter Reed that required counseling but that doctor did not go into detail with the AP. We're digging on that right now.
Also, we have information from a neighbor who lived near him not too far from here in Silver Spring, Maryland; a lady who lived in an apartment just down the hall from him. She described him as being very nice, calm individual who appeared to be living in an apartment with what she thought was his brother.
She said they both were, again, very pleasant gentlemen and had kind of a religious bearing. But she said they were not really overt about that at all. This neighbor said that they noticed the banner on his front door that -- with what appeared to be Islamic inscriptions on it. But again, she said none of this was really overbearing in nature. She described herself as being very shocked at this occurrence.
COOPER: Brian, do we know if his going to Fort Hood this past summer in July, was that just part of the natural progression of him being sent overseas, this processing area? Or was that a reassignment based on something that happened at Walter Reed? Do we know?
TODD: That's not clear at this point, Anderson. But the fact that he spent six years here and then was apparently slated to go overseas, that may be an indication that it was just kind of part of the procedure, that he had to kind of rotate through Fort Hood before being assigned to overseas.
You mentioned some comments by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison who mentioned to CNN earlier tonight that she had heard that he was very upset at being -- at the prospect of being deployed to Iraq. We're all trying to get at his motivations at this point. But Senator Hutchison did mention that she had heard that as well.
So these are bits and pieces of information that we're compiling tonight.
We also have some background on his medical career. He got his medical license in Virginia. He's a native of Virginia. He was born in the United States. And went to Virginia Tech University; graduated from there with a degree in biochemistry about 12 years ago.
COOPER: Right. And increasingly, we know the military is sending psychiatrists into field, into combat zones, into frontline positions trying to help soldiers in real time before they develop post traumatic stress.
Still ahead -- Brian Todd appreciate it, thanks. And CNN national security contributor, Fran Townsend, thank you. I appreciate your expertise as well.
We're going to show you how and where the shooting spree played out at Fort Hood, minute by minute, as it happened this afternoon.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: We're going to be bringing you the latest from Fort Hood live throughout this hour as our extended coverage continues. Right now some other important stories though; let's get you updated. Randi Kaye has a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Randi.
KAYE: Hi again, Anderson. A city council member in Cleveland is calling for an independent investigation into why authorities did not spot signs of foul play years ago at the house of a suspected serial killer. Eleven bodies have been found in and outside the home of Anthony Sowell. Today, the coroner identified a second victim, a 31- year-old woman who disappeared in June.
The AARP and American Medical Association today endorsed legislation drafted by top House Democrats. The bill includes a public option and would provide coverage to 96 percent of Americans. At a rally on Capitol Hill, GOP leaders and TEA party protesters warned the bill will lead to a government takeover of health care.
Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik has pleaded guilty to lying to Bush administration officials and to tax crimes. The lies occurred in 2004 when the White House was vetting Kerik's unsuccessful nomination for Homeland Security Secretary. Prosecutors are recommending a 27 to 33-month prison term.
The New York Yankees gearing up for tomorrow's ticker tape parade after winning the World Series. Yankees manager Joe Girardi had plenty to celebrate of course, last night at the stadium. But the drama, it turns out, did not end there.
Just hours after winning the title while driving home, Girardi stopped to help a car crash victim. Luckily the woman had just some minor cuts. The police arrived minutes later and one officer said that seeing the Yankees manager at the accident scene was totally surreal.
COOPER: It was nice of him to stop and try to help.
KAYE: I know.
COOPER: Still ahead, exclusive video of the suspected Fort Hood shooter taken today before the massacre. I think we're going to have it in the next maybe ten minutes or so.
Also inside Fort Hood, the Army's largest U.S. post with about 40,000 troops stationed there, many of them in shock tonight. We're going to talk with Retired General Russel Honore who once worked at Fort Hood.
COOPER: As we've been reporting, the suspected Fort Hood gunman is Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an American Muslim born in this country. Today a leading Muslim civil rights group, the Council on Islamic- American Relations, reacted to the shooting spree, condemning the attack in the strongest terms possible. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIHAD AWAD, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: No political or religious ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence. The attack was particularly heinous in that it targeted our nation's all-volunteer army that includes thousands of Muslims in all services. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: With me on the phone now is CNN contributor, Retired Lieutenant General Russel Honore who served at Fort Hood in the late 1990s.
General Honore, at this hour, what questions are sort of foremost in your mind that you need, that you want answers to?
LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, U.S. ARMY (RET.), FMR. DEPUTY COMMANDER, FORT HOOD (via phone): Well, number one, what would be the motive for this individual and if he was stable mentally. Obviously not upon the actions of taking the lives of his fellow soldiers.
You know, Anderson, we've got this thing in the army we call a warrior ethos, which is all focused on soldiers taking care of soldiers. And one who's trained in the medical field to do no harm to their -- conduct such a heinous act, one must assume that he wasn't mentally stable himself.
COOPER: We're also hearing from family member -- one family member of his who had said that he had tried to get out of the military years ago because he claimed he had faced anti-Muslim harassment or anti-Muslim comments. What do you make of that? It's not easy especially for somebody who's had that kind of investment and the military has put into him to help him become a psychiatrist to just get out of the military.
HONORE: You know, he's a very wanted commodity in the army, someone who understand the culture that we are going to fight it, and one probably that understands the language and the religious. And we've recruited heavily to try and bring all people from all facets of our society into the army so we have that capability to deploy.
It's unfortunate, in this case, that we have such a sad end today. So many of his fellow soldiers' lives that he took in the process of in dealing with whatever conflict or mental issue he was facing.
COOPER: And I mean, it's such a -- I don't know if it's a sick irony or exactly how to describe it, but the fact that this is a man who, as you said, had pledged to do no harm, who will listen to other soldiers who had actually been in combat and were count and their experiences with post traumatic stress to then do this.
And if, in fact, he is the man who perpetrated this mass murder to do this and inflict such trauma on dozens of other people.
HONORE: Yes. (INAUDIBLE) that we won't understand until the investigation is completed. But we can only feel the pain and the insecurity of those who were involved in and around this incident. And as we speak to soldiers over in Iraq and Afghanistan from Fort Hood upon receiving news of this, it reinforces the point where those people at Fort Hood who were safe and well should try and at all possible use the Red Cross ready well program at www.redcross.org or use the Internet to tell the families they're OK. Stay off the phone. We have thousands of troops from Fort Hood that are deployed who will be trying to call home to find out how their families are doing.
COOPER: Yes, you know, I keep thinking at this late hour about all those family members -- not only of the wounded but of those who were killed who, you know, at this hour are up or trying to get -- you know, or trying to maybe get some sleep or just trying to process what has happened.
And, you know, it's the shock of a loss. But it's, you know, for -- they were probably just gearing up to, you know, ready themselves for their loved ones serving overseas. And then in the final moments before they were being sent overseas to have this happen here at home in their backyard, I mean, it's -- you know, I mean a loss of a soldier anywhere is a horrible thing. But to have it happen here at home, it's so -- it's just a horrible, horrible stab in the gut.
HONORE: Yes, you're right, Anderson. You know, our military is (inaudible), our sanctuary. It's a place that is the military and United States government has put a lot of resources to make sure those posts are safe. So when those troops are deployed, they know their families are safe at home.
And then to see this happen on one of our installations by one of -- a member of our armed forces who wears our nation's cloth is a pretty gut wrenching event. And tonight as we speak families are being notified that these soldiers were lost or family members were lost through the hands of a fellow soldier on a military installation.
So when we're going to -- it's going to take much time and healing to deal with this. And to make sure people know that their families are safe on this military installation and to seek out any people that might be having mental issues to make sure that they get the treatment they need. And in this case, this soldier had never been deployed, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Well, at this point, of course, we're not releasing any names of any of those who have been killed or involved in this until, of course, their family members are notified. But in the days ahead, we're going to hear a lot.
We're going to truly understand the losses that have taken place in this shooting when we learn of the victims and learn their stories and their sacrifices, not just today but, of course, over the years.
General Russel Honore, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you, sir.
HONORE: God bless the army.
COOPER: All right. Well, ahead tonight, a closer look at the suspect's state of mind. What we know at this point. Were there warning signs? Could this, in some way, have been stopped? We're going to talk to a former Naval psychologist. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Back with our breaking news coverage. More now on how all this played out. As the details trickled in the horrible picture began to take shape. Fort Hood is still under lockdown when President Obama made this statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My immediate thoughts and prayers are with the wounded and with the families of the fallen. It's difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas. It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an army base on American soil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for a moment of silence. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Members and those in the gallery will please rise and observe a moment of silence in memory of the victims of violence at Fort Hood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As breaking stories go, this one has been as fluid as they come. Key facts have emerged only to shift in just the last two hours or so. For this unsuspecting victims at Fort Hood, it all began early this afternoon. Tom Foreman has pieced together what we know at this point and when it happened. He joins me now -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Anderson. This is the timeline of what happened at this sprawling military base, just about an hour north of Austin, Texas, the capital of Texas. As we fly into the base this really was in the heart and center of it, the readiness center here. And early afternoon this is what was going on there.
Many, many soldiers were gathering in the readiness center getting ready for their upcoming deployment to Iraq. They were getting final checks from dentists and doctors, also for things they have to take care of. This is a normal thing that goes on.
These are pictures that we shot at this very center back in June. So these are not the people who were involved today. But nonetheless, active pictures. Then at 1:30, military authorities said everything changed. Because that's when they said Major Hasan walked in.
They say he pulled out -- I say walked in, he may have already been there. We don't know that for sure. Pulled out two pistols. One of them is semi-automatic. He began firing into the crowd according to officials.
The response, officials say, was immediate. Almost in a matter of moments, they say, the soldiers around began responding. Nearby there was a college graduation happening for many of the troops involved. Six hundred people inside. This was only steps away from this. They say soldiers closed the doors, secured them so the gunman could not come inside.
As the shooter began working through the buildings, soldiers behind him also began tearing their clothing and bandaging the wounds of -- the people who had been hit already, improvising some kind of care as this went on.
And some time in this process not clear when a female first responder shot the gunman. He was shot several times. She was also wounded in the process and then he went down. Word spread very quickly that the gunman had been shot. And also rumors did, too.
The base went into a lockdown. There is very much concern that other people might be involved. Authorities pulled in three other men who they thought were connected to it because of what eyewitnesses said. They determined they were not.
And then as the hours went by, they finally were able to lift the lockdown and also release the terrible news that the chief suspect was, in fact, this man who worked at the base who counseled people there about issues, about how they felt about their service and anything else they might have to deal with.
This was shocking news tonight, Anderson. Not only that it was this man which we learned about this afternoon, but the suspect was this man. But also as you know, Anderson, all day long we thought the gunman had been killed in all of this only to find out that he's not only alive but in custody, too.
COOPER: Hopefully he may start to answer some questions when he's able to. But, again, that's really up to him. The investigation continues, though. The legal process will continue as well.
Now we have a "360" exclusive. We've been waiting for this hour by hour. We've been piecing together pictures of the alleged gunman. Just moments ago, we received exclusive new video. Surveillance video from a local convenient store in Killeen, Texas outside Fort Hood.
The time is 6:20 a.m. this morning. It shows Major Hasan dressed in traditional garb, apparently, with a drink, like a hot drink. We don't know whether he dressed this way normally or whether he was wearing traditional garb during the shooting.
CNN producer Tracy Sabo who helped obtained this video, she joins us now on the phone.
Tracy, how do we know this is Major Hasan?
TRACY SABO, CNN PRODUCER (via phone): Well, Anderson, I spoke with the convenience store owner for several hours during the course of this evening. And through that time he explained to me that this is a regular customer of his. He knew him by first name. They spoke every so often when he would come in depending on how busy he was.
He called him Nidal. He also knew him by Major Hasan because some days when he came by in the mornings he actually would be wearing his military fatigues. And those fatigues also had his name written on the pocket. He would sometimes come in in traditional robes such as what you're seeing now.
He also had been coming in at times and some medical -- what we traditionally call scrubs, some medical fashion. He also would come in at times dressed in his military fatigues. So it was kind of a combination. But typically always between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m. Central Time in the morning.
He would stop by. He would get coffee. He said he would notice sometimes he would stop and look over the paper which he did actually this morning as well. And sometimes they would have a few minutes to speak. And sometimes he was too busy.
And -- you know...
COOPER: Tracy, this would have been, what, if this was 6:20, the shooting was, what, around 1:00 something local time? So this would have been seven or so hours before? Is that correct?
SABO: That is correct. And you will see within the video depending on what part of the video you're seeing now on the screen, he seemed to be very relaxed. There are a couple times in the video where he can be seen smiling, having a transaction there at the counter.
And he said there wasn't anything at all out of the ordinary with his interaction. And he was the one who interacted with him personally this morning. Nothing out of the ordinary in his demeanor. However...
COOPER: And Tracy, also -- go ahead.
SABO: I was going to mention there was one exchange which really stuck out in his mind. Like I said this is a regular customer. But about a week ago he estimates it was -- he came in and he seemed to want to talk. He knew that the store owner had been overseas and was also a former military.
And he expressed to him specifically that day he was worried about his upcoming deployment. And he expressed that he had a problem against -- one would judge it as a religious conflict. But as a fellow Muslim and someone of faith, he had a problem with having, perhaps, the opportunity in the future to have to shoot or kill or injure or fight fellow Muslims.
And that is something that was weighing heavily on him. And the store owner spoke to him and to some extent tried to relay his fears, he said. That was his words, not mine. But he told him there were bad guys over there, too, in his words. And, you know, he had a job to do. And that was the extent of the conversation. And he went on...
SABO: ... then he saw him about a week later.
COOPER: Tracy, I want to bring in Octavia Nasr who also works with CNN who spoke to the store owner in Arabic and we did that just to see if there were any other details that in Arabic might come about through the conversation. Octavia joins us now on the phone as well.
Octavia, what did the store owner say to you?
OCTAVIA NASR, CNN SR. EDITOR, MIDEAST AFFAIRS (via phone): He said basically that he knew Major Nidal. He called him Major Nidal and he came every morning -- almost every morning except every now an then he'll skip a day or two. And he had coffee and hash browns every morning and read the newspaper.
They had a few conversations every now and then. Basically, he said that he had told him that he's from Jordan. That he said his Arabic was not very good.
COOPER: Wait. Wait. The store owner is from Jordan?
NASR: No. We're not identifying where the store owner is from or his name. But the...
COOPER: But Nidal said he was from Jordan?
NASR: The major. Yes.
COOPER: The major...
NASR: Has told him that he's from Jordan but he was born here. But the store owner says that the major's Arabic was not that good. That every time he tried to talk to him in Arabic, the major could not carry the conversation. So they spoke mostly in English.
And they had conversations ranging from -- joking about marriage. He said that he did not wear a ring. And the store owner assumed that he was not married. And he joked a couple of times asking if the store owner knew of a good bride.
He also said that he drove his Honda with a Virginia license to the store. This is how he came to the store every morning. And they chatted about different things. He talked about his deployment. He talked about where he was from. And also something that I thought was interesting.
He said that he went to this Friday prayer and a few times he asked the store owner if he's going to Friday prayer. And the store owner would say, I'm too busy or no, I'm not going. But he said he was a devout Muslim and he went to Friday prayer every Friday that he saw him. COOPER: And is there a mosque in Killeen?
NASR: There is. As a matter of fact, I called the mosque this afternoon. And as soon as the story broke. And I got a voice mail. There was no one answering. They said to leave a message. So I left a message for someone to call me back. But no one got back with me. But yes, there is a mosque nearby, yes.
COOPER: And Octavia, Tracy had -- Tracy, the producer, had been saying that the store owner and he had a conversation about his deployment in which the major expressed concern and sort of a philosophical or religious concern about being deployed and potentially having to be in a confrontation with another Muslim. Is that something that the store attendant talked to you about?
NASR: No, that did not come up really.
NASR: The interesting thing that came up is the fact that -- the way he described how the major is very particular about the Friday prayer, that he went himself and he asked the owner -- and it seemed to me from the conversation that the store owner was trying to distance himself from that.
That's why he explained to me that he always gave excuses. So he always said basically I'm busy or something like that. He also said that they couldn't talk much because the major would come in during a very busy time for the store owner. He came in in the morning. He said that's a very, very busy time. Everybody's in for coffee.
But he stressed the fact that he knew him by name. That he served him every time he came. And that he knew him. He was just one of the regulars there. He felt very comfortable coming in, chatting around, sitting around, reading the newspaper.
And he said this morning he saw him. They didn't have much of a conversation. He told me that he looked fine. He looked very normal. So when he heard the news, he said he was shocked. He could not believe it.
And as a matter of fact, Anderson, he said as soon as he heard his name, he knew who they're talking about. He said, of course, it's not such a large town. It is a military town. And he said he knew him as Major Nidal. And that was the name that was used. And major -- he said, of course, how many Major Nidals are there?
And he went straight back to look at his video and as soon as he saw the pictures flashed on the TV screen, he said he could hear him and he was shocked. Because he said you saw him in the morning and he looked the fine, he looked normal, nothing seemed to be wrong with the man.
COOPER: Tracy Sabo is also there, CNN producer, who helped us obtain this video. Tracy, do we know if he was wearing his traditional garb on the base? We don't know at the time of the shooting, we assume he was in uniform.
SABO: We do not know. He left the store about 6:30 a.m., and obviously there was quite a bit of time there that transpired in between. So where he went after he left the store, all I saw on the video was him pulling away in his silver Honda. And that's the last we know.
COOPER: Octavia Nasr, what he is wearing, is that traditional for a Jordan? Or somebody who has spent time in Jordan? I mean it looks -- I think it looks pretty -- like outfits I've seen in Jordan.
NASR: Yes. That's the traditional Muslim, really. The dress and the head cap. So it's basically Muslim. It's not necessarily -- so you would see people in Jordan, yes, wearing this. It's just a comfortable dress, basically underneath the robe that you're seeing there would be pants, comfortable pants. And the head cap.
So it's not really a look that you would see around here in the U.S. often. So I personally find it a little bit unusual to see someone in a convenience store with this kind of Muslim garb. Now it could be that, you know, this is from today. So it's not a day of prayer. Tomorrow is the day of prayer, Friday.
So it is a bit unusual, I find, for him to be wearing this. Except if this is his casual wear and he's going there in the morning to get his coffee and from the store owner we learned that he went in there very comfortable, sometimes in sweats, sometimes in his workout clothes and sometimes in this garb.
COOPER: Octavia, is it possible that -- I mean some people play every day or even pray five times a day and some people would just go on a Friday. Is it possible that he went every day?
NASR: Of course it is possible, yes, absolutely. That is possible. From my conversation with the store owner, it seemed to me that Friday was an important day of prayer for him. That's the only day that the store owner mentioned as...
COOPER: I see.
NASR: Where he would get the question, are you going to Friday prayer? But yes, that is possible, Anderson, absolutely, yes.
COOPER: OK. We're going to -- thank you and leave it here. Again, this is the first time we're seeing this video.
Octavia Nasr, thank you very much for all your reporting throughout this day. Tracy Sabo as well, amazing job in getting this CNN exclusive. This is the first images we are seeing of the suspect prior to the shooting taken today, this around 6:20 or 6:30 this morning.
And what we know, it's so eerie looking at these pictures and then knowing what happened just some seven or so hours later. This man is now accused of the worst killing of American forces on an American base in U.S. history.
Coming up next, today's ordeal as it looked and sounded, moment by moment.
COOPER: Back with our breaking news coverage. The exclusive video just in of the Fort Hood suspect earlier today, early this morning about 6:20, 6:30 about seven hours before the shooting began.
Surveillance video from a local convenience store in Killeen, Texas, outside Fort Hood, moments of normalcy before today's moments of sheer terror. The suspect buying a drink, buying some hash browns as he did every morning.
It took just an instant for a day that began like any other at Fort Hood to turn into a bloodbath. Tonight, the story still very much in flux. Still a lot we don't know. Troubling questions unanswered. Key facts still being sorted out.
Now we can say with certainty, though, it's a day those who lived through it will never forget.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SGT. MAJ. JAMIE POSTEN, FORT HOOD SPOKESMAN: Approximately 1:30 today we had -- more than one shooter had fired shots into our soldier readiness processing center and the house theater on Fort Hood.
LT. GEN. ROBERT CONE, U.S. ARMY: It's a terrible tragedy. It's stunning. The soldiers and family members and many of the civilians that work here are absolutely devastated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do not know the nature of this attack. But it is a serious attack upon our war fighters.
PELOSI: Members and those in the gallery will please rise and observe a moment of silence in memory of the victims of violence at Fort Hood.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The shooter, alleged shooter, has been identified as Major Malik Nidal Hasan.