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The Situation Room

Rampage at Fort Hood

Aired November 05, 2009 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: A sad situation, indeed, for so many folks there, as we're watching here in the United States and around the world.

The breaking news this hour: At least one U.S. soldier goes on a shooting rampage, killing 11 people, most of them fellow soldiers, wounding 31 others. It happened at the largest U.S. Army base in the world. That would be Fort Hood in Texas.

The commanding general of the base says the shooter was shot and killed by U.S. military police. A law enforcement source tells us the suspect, the shooter, alleged shooter, has been identified as Major Malik Nidal Hasan. Authorities say he may not have acted alone.


LIEUTENANT GENERAL BOB CONE, FORT HOOD COMMANDING OFFICER: The shooter was killed. He was a soldier. We since then have apprehended two additional soldiers that are suspects. And I would go into the point that there were eyewitness accounts that there may have been more than one shooter.

They tracked the suspected individuals to an adjacent facility and they were apprehended. They are soldiers, but again, they are suspects at this time. And we're looking into that.


BLITZER: First shots were fired at around 1:30 p.m. Central time -- that would be 2:30 p.m. Eastern -- at a center where troops are prepared for deployment. Ten of those killed were in fact United States Army soldiers. One was a police officer working under contract for the U.S. Defense Department.

We're told all the wounded are at hospitals in the area with varying kinds of injuries. There's no word yet on a possible motive. The base, as we just heard, is still in lockdown mode right now, meaning that folks simply have to stay put. They can't leave buildings where they may be.

Federal agents are headed to the scene, FBI and others. And just a short while ago, President Obama condemned what he called a horrific outburst of violence.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My immediate thoughts and prayers are with the wounded and with the families of the fallen and with those who live and serve at Fort Hood.

These are men and women who have made the selfless and courageous decision to risk and at times give their lives to protect the rest of us on a daily basis.

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.


BLITZER: We're told that officials over at the White House in the Situation Room in the West Wing have been on duty trying to get as much information as possible about what happened at Fort Hood.

But, once again, the lockdown continues. The incident is not yet over, perhaps out of an abundance of caution, but they want to make sure that everything is clear and safe before they allow the thousands of individuals on that base to go out of the buildings and start moving around.

Tom Foreman is here. He's been helping us all afternoon with the breaking news.

Tom, this is a -- I can't emphasize how big this base is, 40,000 or 50,000 U.S. military personnel, plus then family members and dependents.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tremendous number of people. It's about an hour north of Austin, the state capital of Texas.

And this is the whole base here, but it really sprawls in many directions, 340 square miles, tremendous number of people. Let's move in and take a look at the readiness center, where all of this is focused on today.

This is sort of the heart of the base here, the headquarters of the 1st Cavalry over there, the renowned 1st Cavalry. This is the readiness center that we're talking about, Wolf.

And I do want to point out the sheer numbers of people that were involved here, when you talk about the military having to deal with this incident erupting in the middle of it here. This facility, it's one floor. We thought earlier it might be two, but we're told this is a one-story building in here.

But our calculations put it at about 117,000 square feet, enormous area when you talk about an incident like this happening. It also gives you an idea of how many people could be inside there. And look at the number of people on this base. We have 40,000 troops associated with this base.

That's a tremendous number of people. Over 17,000 family members live on the post. If you widen out a little bit here, you can see that some of them live in like neighborhoods over here. There's softball fields, theaters, all sorts of things going on in here.

BLITZER: If you do the math, that's 57,000 people.

FOREMAN: Tremendous number of people.

They talking about the phone lines being clogged there. They're asking people, if you're trying to contact people there, please use text messaging, not phones, because the cell phones are being overwhelmed. And you can see why.

You talk about this many people here, 50,000, 60,000 people, everybody trying to reach out to three or four different family members. That's very hard on a system like this. And the parking lot here would hold about 1,000 cars, maybe more.

So, a tremendous number of people all in this one area Wolf. And what we know now that we didn't know a couple of hours ago is that it does seem to be largely about just this area. We still have the question of these two possible suspects out there, whether they were involved or not.

But what we need to find out now and you can guarantee what investigators are looking at now in this lockdown, while they make sure there's nothing else out here, they're trying as quickly as they can to reconstruct, where did this person come from? Was he inside? Was he outside? Where did he get these handguns that he's been reporting to have had, these two guns?

Did he have any other weapons? Where did the shooting begin? How did it progress? What led to all of this? We do know that this is a facility where people leave to go to Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the people as we understood were going to Iraq. Is that our belief at this point, Wolf? Is that correct?

BLITZER: We're told that most of those troops who were in the readiness center were about to be deployed to the war in Iraq.

FOREMAN: About to deploy to Iraq.

BLITZER: Not Afghanistan. Iraq.

FOREMAN: And yet facilities like this also have people coming back from duty there.


BLITZER: They rotate in and out of Fort Hood?

FOREMAN: So, really, in military bases that I have been to, the readiness center really is an incredibly important place, because this is the contact point. This is the portal to going to combat. You're either coming back from it or you're going to it here. And this can often be a very -- an emotional place, and a difficult place for many soldiers to deal with, simply because it's a big, big moment. This is the thing they have trained for, the thing they're ready for. But this for this story is ground zero, the thing we're going to be looking at this and figuring out where this came from. You can guarantee there are investigators in there working right now, Wolf, in this lockdown situation to figure out how this happened and as we get their results we will be passing them on as well.

BLITZER: Yes. We're getting some more information now.

The alleged shooter, we have identified him according to a law enforcement source a major, U.S. Army Major Malik -- or Malik -- Nidal -- or Nidal -- Hasan, 39 or 40 years old.

The Associated Press is now reporting that the suspect who himself was shot by military police is described as a U.S. Army mental health professional. I don't know exactly what that means, but someone obviously working in the field of mental health.


FOREMAN: One thing I would tell you, that if he's in an area like this, if he were posted here and he's dealing with the 1st Cavalry, look, the 1st Cavalry, their headquarters are right over here. I can't state strongly enough for those of you who are not military, who haven't studied military history, these people have been as deeply involved in combat in this country's history as anybody has ever been.

So, if he's involved in mental health with the military, this would be a guy who would be certainly dealing with an awful lot of members of the 1st Cavalry, because these are the guys who go and fight in a big way.

BLITZER: He could be in psychology or psychiatry, could be a social worker, anyone involved in mental health.

And clearly as you get ready to deploy to war, there are plenty of mental health professionals who are helping the soldiers get ready for war and then bringing them back to make sure they don't suffer from post-traumatic shock syndrome, or whatever.


FOREMAN: And you raise a very good point, Wolf. It's important for our viewers to realize, too, that a mental health professional, as anywhere, but certainly in the military, most of what they're dealing with is not some over-the-top mental problem. It's actually just normal things that all of us deal with that the military takes very seriously, and even more...


FOREMAN: ... as combat goes on.


BLITZER: A lot of issues. I want to go to the White House.

Our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry, is standing by.

We heard the president, Ed. He expressed his deep, deep sadness over this incident. What else are you picking up?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, new information, Wolf, is that the president a short time ago in the Oval Office placed a phone call to Lieutenant General Robert Cone.

You will remember he's the commanding general at Fort Hood. He's been on our air over the last couple of hours stating the facts. This was a chance we're told by officials here for the president to directly express his condolences, but also undoubtedly a chance to get some of those facts, exactly what's going on, on the ground.

Now, officials here are telling me that they have absolutely no indication that this was a terror plot or anything like that. Nonetheless, they say they are staying on top of it, they're monitoring developments.

For the last couple of hours, there have been officials who have been in the Situation Room here at the White House as the president himself noted coordinating with all these various agencies, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, just making sure they're on top of this, that they have as many details as they can, because a lot of that information is still unknown, Wolf.

BLITZER: So, they're monitoring this very, very closely in the Situation Room over there in the West Wing. And presumably they're getting all the latest information coming in. The president, the vice president, they all want to be briefed on what's going on.

HENRY: Absolutely. They of course want to stay on top of it, make sure they can get as much of this and make sense of it as much as they can. Obviously this adding stress to troops all around the United States, even though it happened at this one base at a time when this president obviously is about to make a monumental decision about whether to send more troops to war, specifically in Afghanistan.

As you've been noting the troops that were about to be deployed from Fort Hood were going to Iraq. But there's already been tremendous stress on the military, this situation only adding to that, but on top of it, you also have to deal with the law enforcement situation, officials here at the White House saying they want to make sure they have every last detail, Wolf.

BLITZER: We will get right back to you.

Ed Henry, he is working his sources at the White House.

Abbi Tatton is getting some more information online, lots of information coming in.

Abbi, what are you picking up? ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, we're getting more information now from the hospital where some of the wounded are being sent right now.

This is Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Texas. We're about 30 miles away. We told you earlier that an urgent online appeal for blood went out on this Web site which been passed around on Twitter for the last couple of hours, all blood types required there.

The latest from the hospital is that, and I will read this to you, it's just been posted. "Scott & White Memorial Hospital has received nine gunshot victims from Fort Hood." It says more are expected.

Now, just to recap, we have heard the latest number is 31 wounded, plus 12 dead, which includes the gunman. More from the hospital: "At this time, the victims coming to Scott & White are suffering from wounds. Nothing else at this time, and all patients are adults."

This information is being passed around by people in the area urging anywhere in the area to go to the hospital to give blood, the hospital saying that we need that as soon as possible.

One other thing I wanted to point out, Wolf, that is going on, on the Twitter feed from the U.S. Army is so many people are reaching out to the Army via Twitter asking about loved ones, trying to get information. As we have heard, it's very difficult to get through on cell phones right now; people are being urged to not use the cell phone, to not tie them up.

What the U.S. Army is telling people is please go to the Red Cross' disaster site, where people may be registering to say we're OK using that as a means of communication right now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Abbi, thanks very much. We will get back with you as well.

General Russel Honore, retired U.S. Army, is joining us on the phone. He's been helping us all afternoon.

You once served at Fort Hood, Texas.

We're learning a little bit more piece by piece by piece, General Honore, of this alleged shooter who himself was shot and killed by U.S. military personnel, but only after he allegedly killed 11 soldiers and injured, wounded 31 others. We're told he's identified as Major Malik Nidal Hasan, 39 or 40 years old.

The Associated Press, General Honore, saying he was a U.S. Army mental health professional. I'm not exactly sure what that means. It could be a psychiatrist, a psychologist, could be a social worker, but someone involved in mental health.

But as you know, you get troops ready for deployment or ready to come home from deployment, a lot of them need some assistance. LIEUTENANT GENERAL RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), U.S. ARMY: That is correct.

And that is a major recruiting after by the Army to increase capability by increasing the number of mental health workers. And we were allowed to expand that particular field in the Army, so that those specialists are in high demand, Wolf, as we deal with the soldiers going and coming from repeated years of combat. Over.

BLITZER: We have just confirmed General Honore here at CNN that this alleged shooter, who's now dead, Major Malik Nidal Hasan, was in fact a mental health professional. And we're also told he had at point served at the Walter Reed U.S. Army Hospital right here in Washington, D.C., in the nation's capital.

This is a significant hospital dealing with a lot of troops who come back from war with severe injuries, as you well know. I'm sure you have been to Walter Reed, as have I. We don't know a lot more about this alleged shooter, as we say, other than the fact he was himself shot and killed.

It's alarming to think, though, that someone could become a major in the United States Army and open fire on fellow soldiers.

HONORE: Yes, it's unconscionable that could happen.

And the results of the investigation will tell. But this is most unusual, particularly if there were any other individuals collaborating with him. This raised many suspicious ideas in my mind, as well as people around the Army, I'm sure.

BLITZER: Yes, especially if there's -- these two other suspects were in fact involved, and we don't know if they were, if they were just picked up for questioning because of suspicious behavior or background or whatever. We don't know anything about these two other suspects.

But if there was a plot, as you say, of three individuals who were plotting to kill soldiers, that raises this to a whole different level, as opposed to one individual maybe just went crazy, he went berserk and started firing for whatever reason.

We have no information, General Honore, about a motive right now, if in fact there was a motive, beyond insanity, shall we say. We don't know anything at all about that, but there are a lot of questions. It's not just the U.S. Army that's going to be investigating this.

We're told law enforcement authorities are coming in, including FBI and others, General Honore. This would be normal procedure in an incident like this; is that right?

HONORE: That is correct. This is a federal installation. And the federal government, but in all of its powers of FBI, criminal investigation division, from throughout the Army, will close in on that (AUDIO GAP) full investigation. This will be handled by the federal government.

Wolf, on another point there, as mentioned earlier on the Twitter lines, the social networks, if people go to Red Cross Safe and Well, that site can be had at That Safe and Well program, you can register both ways. People on Fort Hood can go there and register and say they're OK, and then their relatives can pop in and see that online and relieve some of the stress on the local phone system., Safe and Well program. Over.

BLITZER: General Honore, I'm going to ask you to stand by, because we're getting new information.


BLITZER: We're standing by for another news conference that we will share with our viewers as soon as they comes in.

We will also share with our viewers what President Obama said just a little while ago. If you missed it, we will play it for you. He was obviously very, very deeply concerned about this incident in Fort Hood.

We are going to getting more information about the alleged shooter, as well, Malik Nidal Hasan, or first name Nidal Malik Hasan. We're not exactly sure, but we're getting more information on the alleged shooter who himself was shot by military police, but only after he caused so much carnage at Fort Hood, Texas.

We will take a quick break. Our breaking news coverage will continue right here in THE SITUATION ROOM after this.


BLITZER: We're getting some new information on this alleged shooter at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 11 soldiers, wounding 31 others.

He's now identified by the Virginia Board of Medicine as Nidal Malik Hasan. We had been saying Malik Nidal Hasan, N-I-D-A-L, Malik, M-A-L-I-K, Hasan, H-A-S-A-N.

We are told he is an M.D., he is a doctor, and he was involved in mental health, clinical practice, and his most recent base here, it says Fort Hood, Texas, Darnall Army Medical Center, which is on the base at Fort Hood in Texas.

So, we do know that this major is an M.D. He's a doctor involved in mental health issues, allegedly, for some reason, we don't know the motive, opening fire for -- about three-and-a-half, a little bit more than three-and-a-half, almost four hours ago, opening fire and killing these fellow soldiers.

Two other suspects as we know are in custody right now. We don't know what if any involvement they had in the incident. We only know that these suspects have been detained.

Earlier today, just a little while ago, the president spoke out about this incident.


OBAMA: But as some of you might have heard, there has been a tragic shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas. We don't yet know all the details at this moment. We will share them as we get them.

What we do know is that a number of American soldiers have been killed, and even more have been wounded in a horrific outburst of violence.

My immediate thoughts and prayers are with the wounded and with the families of the fallen and with those who live and serve at Fort Hood.

These are men and women who have made the selfless and courageous decision to risk and at times give their lives to protect the rest of us on a daily basis.

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.

I have spoken to Secretary Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and I will continue to receive a constant stream of updates as new information comes in.

We are working with the Pentagon, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, all to ensure that Fort Hood is secure and we will continue to support the community with the full resources of the federal government.

In the meantime, I would ask all Americans to keep the men and women of Fort Hood in your thoughts and prayers. We will make sure that we get answers to every single question about this horrible incident, and I want all of you to know that as commander-in-chief, there's no greater honor, but also no greater responsibility for me than to make sure that the extraordinary men and women in uniform are properly cared for an that their safety and security when they are at home is provided for.

So we are going to stay on this, but I hope in the meantime that all of you recognize the scope of this tragedy and keep everybody in their thoughts and prayers.


BLITZER: And just a little while ago, the vice president issued this statement: "Jill and I join the president and Michelle in expressing our sympathies to the families of the brave soldiers who fell today. We are all praying for those who were wounded and hoping for their full and speedy recovery. Our thoughts and prayers are also with the entire Fort Hood community as they deal with this senseless tragedy" -- that a statement from Vice President Joe Biden.

And on the floor of the House of Representatives just a little while ago, they had a moment of silence.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: 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.


BLITZER: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and a moment of silence on the House floor.

We're standing by for a briefing. That's going to happen very soon at Fort Hood, Texas. We will have it for you live. We're also getting new pictures coming in of the incident -- much more of our breaking news coverage right after this.


BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, and we're standing by for a briefing at Fort Hood, Texas. That's supposed to happen fairly soon. We will have live coverage. You're looking at that live picture right there.

Joining us on the phone is Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Fort Hood obviously in her state. She's been very helpful to us in our coverage.

Senator Hutchison, I know you have been getting some briefings. What else can you tell us about the alleged shooter who himself was shot and killed, an individual identified as Major Nidal Malik Hasan, M.D., 39 or 40 years old, someone who worked in medical health at the Darnall Medical Center on the base at Fort Hood?

Do you have any more information about this individual and what his motive may or may not have been?

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: Well, all I can say is that I know he was scheduled to be deployed and appeared to be upset about that.

And so I think that there is a lot of investigation going on now into his background and just, you know, what he was doing that was not known before.

BLITZER: When you say he was being deployed, was he off to Iraq, to Afghanistan? Do you know?

HUTCHISON: I have heard Iraq. I was told earlier that he was scheduled to go to Iraq, as most of the people there were. It was a number of guard units that were there who were being processed to go to Iraq and possibly some to Afghanistan. It was not clear if there were some going to Afghanistan, but I think so. And it was some guard members and others who were in the processing facility. And I heard that he probably knew some of the people that he was shooting, but that's not confirmed.

But, you know, they're looking into everything now in his background, of course, and also trying to confirm if there was another shooter. There are two suspects who are being held who were armed, but it is not -- at least, in the last half-hour, I haven't had confirmed if one or both of them actually did do some shooting.

BLITZER: Do we know anything about his ethnic background? Because I'm getting flooded with e-mail requests, Nidal Malik Hasan, the origin of his name and stuff like that. I assume you have asked that question to those who are briefing you, Senator Hutchison.

HUTCHISON: Yes. I don't know for sure. I was told that it's possible that he is from Jordan is what I have heard. But I can't say that that's positive.

But that was one of the earlier pieces of information that I had received.

BLITZER: His medical license is from the Virginia Board of Medicine. He's an M.D. I assume if he was involved in mental health, he's a psychiatrist. Is that the information that you have?

HUTCHISON: I believe that is the case, yes.

BLITZER: And do you know if he was on active duty, if he was on active duty in the United States military, or a reservist who had been called up?

HUTCHISON: I believe he was active duty.

BLITZER: He was active duty in the U.S. Army...


BLITZER: ... a major, a psychiatrist. And the initial -- and we're stressing initial information -- sometimes, initial reports in a breaking news situation like this turn out to be wrong -- the initial information was, he was complaining about having to be deployed to Iraq; is that right?

HUTCHISON: Yes. That is what I had heard initially as well.

I think the military is trying very hard to be thorough in their investigation, before they confirm anything. And at the same time, they're trying to find out what his background was that they didn't know about. And they're obviously questioning the other two suspects to determine if there were two more shooters, or just one.

BLITZER: Is there any other information, Senator Hutchison, you want to share with our viewers right now? HUTCHISON: Well, obviously, when someone can be in your own military and do this to the people who are going to be deployed with you, it is a huge concern.

And you have to get to the bottom of it and determine if this is a one time thing or if there is some kind of other group that might be trying to infiltrate our military.

And the military is on it. They have asked the FBI to be helpful, which they are going to be. And, of course, it's a great concern to every American, because our military were doing such a great job and Fort Hood has particularly borne much of the responsibility for the deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

They -- many of the people that I've talked to there have gone three times, four times. And so there's a -- a lot of support there for these families. But there's a lot of stress, of course, in a situation like this. And I think we all just have to reach out to the families and those who were injured and those who've lost loved ones and do everything to make sure that this isn't something that might could happen somewhere else and try to prepare for the next thing that might happen that -- that we can stop before it does.

BLITZER: All right. Senator Hutchinson, we're grateful to you for all your help.

We'll stay in close touch with you.

I know you're getting more information and we'll share it with our viewers.

We're also standing by for this briefing that is about to take place at Fort Hood. You see the microphones already set up there. Once the briefers come out and go to those microphones, we'll have live coverage of that.

We also are getting in some new video of the immediate aftermath of this incident, courtesy of the Department of Defense. Tom Foreman and I are going to look at this video as we see it -- this is the first time we've seen it coming in -- but, Tom, as we see this video, you can see the fire -- the shots have been fired. The authorities now have called the police and they're coming in to move in and take action.

And, as I say, this is the -- the footage that's just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM from the U.S. Department of Defense. You see the aftermath of this shooting, of this incident, at this Readiness Center, where troops were being readied to head off to war in Iraq.

FOREMAN: Wolf, this tells me something that we have been getting some notes about that we wanted to clarify, too, exactly the building involved here. We have had -- what we've been highlighting here has been the wrong building, based upon these pictures and some of these notes we've been seeing...

BLITZER: And you can see the wounded... FOREMAN: It's very close...

BLITZER: ...being carried away...

FOREMAN: Exactly.

BLITZER: ...and brought into this ambulance from -- from the -- from the incident.

FOREMAN: Exactly. And, I will say, Wolf, that based on what we can see here, if we're talking about that sort of octagonal building back there, then we're also talking about a building that would be considerably smaller than the one we've been highlighting over here, which, now I'm being told, is -- is a soldier development center. It's more of a school for soldiers -- very close to this location.

But if this is the Readiness Center, then you're talking about people being in a much more confined space. And this does not look, to me, in many ways, as big as some of the other readiness centers I've been in in other places, which sometimes can be very sprawling affairs.

BLITZER: Yes. You can see the authorities or the police there taking action. This has been in the immediate aftermath. And you hear the sirens wailing. That's because they wanted everyone on that base -- 50,000 or 60,000 people -- dependents, kids, spouses -- they wanted everybody to go into a lockdown mode and make sure they wouldn't leave their -- their buildings.

FOREMAN: And, Wolf, having grown up on military bases, I -- I know that feeling, because we had those for tornadoes. You had them for all sorts of difficult problems. They alerted the whole base. So you're correct in -- in what's happening there.

But this also, judging from the -- the positioning of these police officers, it would be interesting to know how long this was shot after the event, because they're -- they're clearly involved here, but also, you know, they're going to very rapidly set up a perimeter around anything like that to make sure that nobody is coming in or going out, beyond medical emergency personnel, that sort of thing.

So, it will be very interesting to get a sense of the time frame of when these pictures were being taken.

BLITZER: Let's bring in, as we continue to look at this -- these are the initial pictures of the video that the U.S. Department of Defense has made available of what happened in the immediate aftermath of the shooting incident at Fort Hood, Texas.

Congressman Mike Conaway is joining us, Republican of Texas.

The congressman served for, what, 16 months at Fort Hood.

Congressman, this -- this hits home painfully, I'm sure, for you, as it does for so many of our viewers. REP. MIKE CONAWAY (R), TEXAS: Well, it does. And my prayers and heartfelt condolences go out to those families that are involved, both for the (INAUDIBLE) the wounded.

I actually represent an awful lot of folks who work at Fort Hood, but live in my Congressional district, which is just immediately to the west of the fort. And so we've got those who serve there, civilian contractors, as well as retired (INAUDIBLE) circuit for those.

So it's a big family. Once you've served there, well, it's this giant place -- 340 square miles. You know, there's a certain attachment to it, maybe because it's Central Texas. But it -- nevertheless, it's a -- it is a family of folks. And -- and I know they're all feeling this pain today.

BLITZER: Have you been briefed, Congressman, on the shooter -- the alleged shooter, who himself has been shot by military police, Dr. Nidal Malik Hasan, the United States major in the U.S. Army?

CONAWAY: Well, not beyond that information. So I -- and early on, he was -- they said he was from the Signal Corps, but apparently he is a physician of some sort assigned to Darnell Medical Center there out -- at Fort Hood.

So -- but beyond just his name and rank and -- and in this horrific event that he's accused of doing, that's -- that's about it.

BLITZER: Yes. The only thing we know is that he does have a medical license from the Virginia Board of Medicine and served, at one point, at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the hospital here in Washington, D.C., but most recently has been based at the Darnell Army Medical Center in Fort Hood.

We were told by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison -- she had been informed that he was about to be deployed to Iraq and wasn't very happy about that. There was some information he was originally from Jordan.

But we're trying to get this information clarified. We have no information at all about a motive.

Congressman, have you heard anything at all about some sort of motive that this individual may have had in opening fire with two pistols against fellow soldiers?

CONAWAY: No. And it's, you know, speculation is harmful at this point in time. I -- I have great confidence that the FBI and the -- and the CID, with the Army, will -- will know every -- every aspect of this guy's life six ways from Sunday. And we'll know, over the next several days, (INAUDIBLE) that kind of information.

But at this stage, any speculation, I think, is harmful to the circumstances. Let's -- let's get the information. Let's get the investigation done. Let's get the families cared for. We've got wounded at Temple Hospital (INAUDIBLE) who need blood. So anybody who is listening, obviously, who is capable of getting over to Temple to donate blood, that's a -- that's a need right now, which indicates that those 31 or 32 people that are shot and injured -- or some of them are in critical condition.

BLITZER: Well said.

Congressman, thanks very much.

We'll stay in close touch with you. Congressman Mike Conaway, Republican of Texas.

His district is right next to Fort Hood, Texas and he knows the area well. He served there for 16 months.

We're standing by for a -- a news conference from the scene. We'll go there live as soon as the military personnel come out. They're going to update us on what we know right now of the circumstances surrounding this horrific massacre. I think we can call it a massacre -- 12 dead, including the shooter; 31 injured.

Our coverage will continue right after this.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're continuing the breaking news coverage of the horrific massacre in Fort Hood, Texas just about four hours ago. The shooter, the alleged shooter, who himself was shot by military police, but only after he opened fire, killing 11 fellow soldiers and 31 other soldiers wounded, Nidal Malik Hasan, a major in the United States Army, also a medical doctor licensed by the Virginia Board of Medicine. We're told he's a psychiatrist.

Abbi Tatton is getting more information -- Abbi, including the first picture we have of Major Hasan.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, a picture that we've just found online of this medical doctor. The picture here from the Center of the Study of Traumatic Stress. It appears to be a picture taken while he was a fellow at the Department of Psychiatry at the F. Edward Herbert School of Medicine. That's in Bethesda, Maryland.

We see online records that showed that he did recent training there, just in the last few years. Other online records that we have right now from the -- from the Virginia Board of Medicine here showing that his current location was working there on Fort Hood, Texas, at the Darnell Army Medical Center.

So this, the first picture that we're seeing, Wolf, of Nidal Malik Hasan, as we're getting it in right now.

BLITZER: I can't read what it says, that little caption next to his picture. Maybe you can read that for us, Abbi.

TATTON: It's details of when this picture appears to have been taken, in the last couple of years, when he was a fellow in the department of psychiatry, specifically, disaster and preventative psychiatry at that school of medicine that I referred to before, the F. Edward Herbert School of Medicine. That is just outside of the District of Columbia in Bethesda, Maryland.

No other biography, no other information along with this. But we have seen from online records that he was a licensed doctor and the information there that he was licensed in Virginia, but the main place that he worked was this medical center in -- on Fort Hood -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, but I -- I live in Bethesda, Maryland and I've never heard of this medical school in Bethesda, Maryland. So I'm -- maybe it exists, but I've just never heard of it and been living there for a long time. I'm going to have you and our people check that out carefully to see what, in fact, that is. If there's a medical security there in Bethesda, Maryland, I certainly never heard of it -- Tom Foreman, you're here. You live in Bethesda, Maryland, too, right?


BLITZER: Have you ever heard of a medical school?


BLITZER: This is...


BLITZER: ...this particular school?

FOREMAN: Not for that particular one. Obviously, there's a lot of federal buildings. There's a lot of military out there, I must (INAUDIBLE)...

BLITZER: Yes, there's the Bethesda Naval Hospital...

FOREMAN: Of course.

BLITZER: ...that everybody knows about. But I'm not familiar with this. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist but...

FOREMAN: We'll have to find out more about it.

BLITZER: We'll find some more about it.

Brian Todd is also working his sources.

What are you picking up, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, what we're working from here, of course, is the confirmation now that all three suspects in the shooting, including the alleged shooter, Nedal Hasan are soldiers. Now, very dicey now to compare this to any other incidences. The information is so fluid. We don't know anything about motive yet.

What we can tell you is this. In Iraq, there have been six incidents where U.S. service members were killed by fellow service members during the Iraq War. Now, in one of them, at Camp Liberty near the Baghdad Airport, in May of this year, a soldier fired on other troops at a counseling center, killing five people in those six incidents during the Iraq War. A total of 14 U.S. servicemen were killed by their fellow soldiers.

Now, domestically, in 1995, one soldier at Fort Bragg, North Carolina was convicted of murder and attempted in the 1995 shootings of 19 follow servicemen -- of 19 fellow servicemen. And at least one of them died.

Now, regarding Camp Liberty, we also checked into some of the regulations at U.S. bases. In the Camp Liberty incident, we found out that U.S. troops there were required to clear their weapons of ammunition while on the base. The only service members allowed to have loaded weapons were those guarding high ranking officers. And military police were trying to ascertain, Wolf, what the regulations are on Fort Hood. We hope to bring that to you soon.

BLITZER: And this is a huge base, Brian.

TODD: It is.

BLITZER: Just give our viewers a little sense of what's going on.

TODD: It is. I mean we -- we got some information on the base from the Web site,, and other sources. This is the largest Army base in the world. It occupies about 340 square miles.

And according to, it is the largest active duty armored post in the United States -- the only one capable of supporting two full armored divisions. It houses the 1st Calvary Division, the 4th Infantry Division, as well as other commands. And according to and the other sources, the overall population of Fort Hood estimated at about 70,000, 71,000, possibly, of which at least 40,000 and possibly closer to 50,000 are soldiers. The rest are family members and other employees at the base. It is massive.

BLITZER: Yes. We're talking about a nice sized city there at Fort Hood, Texas...

TODD: Right.

BLITZER: ...70,000 people. That's huge, indeed.

Brian, stand by.

We're going to get more information from you and all of our reporters who are working this story.

We're also awaiting a briefing at Fort Hood, Texas. We expect, momentarily, briefers to come out. You see the microphones there -- they're already set up -- and update us on what's going on.

Our coverage of the breaking news will continue right after this.


BLITZER: We are now learning that this medical facility that Dr. Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major, the alleged shooter in this incident, does, in fact, exist. It's right -- it's part of the U.S. Naval medical facility in Bethesda, Maryland, the Bethesda Naval Hospital. It's -- it's an annex there. So, yes, it does exist, indeed.

Tom Foreman is here, as well -- Tom, stand by for a moment. I'm going to get -- we're getting some more information from our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, who's watching all of this unfold -- Barbara, specifically, do we have anymore information on the background of this major -- this medical doctor, a psychiatrist, apparently, Nidal Malik Hasan, the alleged shooter?

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I'll tell you, Wolf, people here at the Pentagon and military personnel combing files and seeing what they know about this man. Obviously, this now a major concern across the loss -- law enforcement community, as well. We know that the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI sharing any information they have, talking to the Pentagon, assessing the incident. Defense Secretary Robert Gates being kept up to date by the minute.

What may be so difficult to understand here is at Fort Hood -- having been there and having been inside the building where this incident took place, Fort Hood is an Army base that has paid particular attention to the mental health of the troops going off to war, the troops coming back and the families. They have really beefed up their mental health capability and facilities there, their counseling, the services they offer to the troops suffering from combat stress, the families suffering from the stress of being separated from their loved ones during war, the fallen, the wounded, all of it.

So this is particularly going to hit very close to home to the Fort Hood community. And I would also tell you, at this hour, this news sweeping across the U.S. military. Walking around the Pentagon this evening, this is what people are talking about -- people stopping other people in the hallways saying, what have you heard, how bad is it, what's really going on?

So a lot of concern about all of this, obviously -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And if you get some more information on this shooter, let us know. We -- we're very interested in knowing, perhaps, what was involved, his background, why anyone, especially a medical doctor -- a major in the United States Army -- would open fire and start just killing fellow soldiers...

STARR: It...

BLITZER: At Fort Hood, Texas -- Barbara. STARR: And I think one of the key questions is going to be, if it is proven that he was the gunman here, how a medical professional came to have a firearm, because in his professional work with the U.S. military, certainly, he would have no need for a firearm on -- on Fort Hood. That goes without saying.

Had he been deployed to the front lines in a combat zone, typically, some medical personnel do, some do not wear firearms, depending on where they are and what kind of combat situation they may be in.

Perhaps he came in possession of the firearm through some civilian means. We simply don't know. But I'm certain that will be a major issue that both civilian and military law enforcement will be looking into. As a doctor, he would have not had any need, of course, for a firearm on Fort Hood -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And, Barbara, if you could check what -- Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison told us a little while ago here in THE SITUATION ROOM that she had been told that he was originally from Jordan, although she wasn't 100 percent sure of that.

If you could check that out for us with your sources at the Pentagon and get back with us, that, obviously, would be of interest.

We'll get back to Barbara Starr.

She's working her sources.

Tom Foreman is here. You're going to show us on -- on this map, what -- Tom?

FOREMAN: A little more points of reference on -- on this fellow that we're talking about here.

Here's the U.S. Capitol right here. If you drift this way, you're going to find, as you go this way -- if you've been a tourist here at any time, you know that over here, across the river, is where you're going to find the Pentagon, where Barbara was just talking to us from a short while ago.

And then, if you want to travel up here, this is where this fellow was being trained, up in Bethesda, not far from where you and I live -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Right. But I've been living in Bethesda for a long time and I didn't know that this existed.


BLITZER: We know about the Bethesda Naval Facility.

FOREMAN: Sure. This is the area we're talking about, part of the Bethesda Naval Facility, which is another big...

BLITZER: The hospital there. FOREMAN: ...big sprawling complex...

BLITZER: The medical center.

FOREMAN: -- out there (INAUDIBLE)...

BLITZER: Which is right there.

FOREMAN: So this is the area we're talking about.

Beyond that, the other thing I wanted to get back to here, if we can fly back over -- all the way over to Texas, which will take us a little bit of time. But if we go back to Fort Hood here, I want to talk about where this fellow worked.

We were having some trouble earlier with the exact location of where this was happening. The Readiness Center that we've been talking about, we thought it was this building right over here. Through some of our own people and some of our viewers who have helped us out, we've narrowed it down. It's not this building. It's this building right over here. This is the Readiness Center. There may be two new buildings right in here, so we're not sure where the shooting happened here. But as I mentioned earlier, it's a smaller space than we were talking about before. We'll get more details as that goes on.

But the place where this fellow was posted, where he was supposed to be doing his work, is right over here...

BLITZER: The Darnall Army Medical Center.

FOREMAN: -- the Darnall Center. If you look at this, it's about a mile from the Readiness Center, right up there in the corner now, to the hospital down here. It's just about a mile away. This is where he was normally working -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A psychiatrist, a major, a medical doctor, obviously, opens fire and kills a whole bunch of soldiers in this massacre and wounds a lot of others. So many questions that have to be answered.

We've got some video of the aftermath from the Department of Defense.

Barbara Starr is joining us -- Barbara, I know you recently spent some time at Fort Hood.

That's where so many of the thousands -- hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops are deployed to -- to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. They rotate in and out of Fort Hood.

But we're going to show some of the pictures, some of the video. And tell us what we're seeing, because you know this area.

STARR: Wolf, as you begin to look at the video and you see the immediate response by very heavily armed law enforcement at Fort Hood. This is an area of many buildings, where thousands of soldiers, who may either be going off to war or returning from war -- right there, that building we have been in. They line up inside. They go through various stations, if you will, to process their paperwork, whether they're coming or going.

There are medical checks. There is financial paperwork to fill out, payroll information and making sure that everything -- this is what the Army is all about -- paperwork -- you know, making sure everything is just perfect.

And Fort Hood is a place where they make sure, when the soldiers come back, they go through these medical checks, including mental health checks.

I think it is very impressive, as you look at this video, to see the overwhelming emergency trauma/medical response that flooded this area as fast as they could. Fort Hood is a large installation. They would have had to drive on the roads from gates and various places for -- for some few minutes to get to this site. And there was -- there was immediate law enforcement and trauma capability.

I think we have reported that many of the victims were taken to the hospital on base and some now taken to medical facilities off base.

But you hear the sirens going, you see the heavily armed personnel. And this, sadly, is perhaps what the military does best -- responding to an emergency in a coordinated, fashion with communications, capability and trauma medical care for everyone who needs it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara, stand by, because we're going to continue our coverage.

Ed Lavandera has now arrived on the base in Fort Hood.

We'll check in with him right after this.


BLITZER: All right. You're looking at these live pictures coming in from Fort Hood, Texas. It's approaching 7:00 p.m. there -- excuse me, 6:00 p.m. there, 7:00 p.m. here on the East Coast. That those microphones will soon see some briefers coming in from Fort Hood. They're going to update us on what we know right now. Once they do, we'll have live coverage here on CNN.

We do know there was a massacre there about four-and-a-half hours or so ago, 2:30 p.m. Eastern, 1:30 p.m. local when an individual identified as Nidal Malik Hasan, a medical psychiatrist in the hospital opened fire killing soldiers, wounding others. We don't know why he opened fire. We do know that two others -- two other soldiers were arrested as suspects, at least they were detained, picked up. We don't know if they have any connection on that front. As soon as we let you know, we'll let you know. They may have new information for us on this briefing you'll see it here.

Tom Foreman has been helping us better appreciate what's going on.

Fort Hood not far from the state capital of Austin, Texas. The key question, why on Earth would a major in the United States Army, a medical doctor, 39 or 40 years old open fire on fellow soldiers?

FOREMAN: Absolutely, Wolf.

And as we've said all afternoon, what we -- what we don't know is an ocean of information.

What we dough know is this. We can revisit sort of the basic facts here. As we move in it's a military base, awful lot of people there. As you know, it's about an hour north of -- of...

BLITZER: Austin.

FOREMAN: -- Austin, the capital of the state. It's a big sprawling base. And this is where it all apparently happened.

BLITZER: There was some confusion originally where it occurred.

FOREMAN: Sure. Sure.

BLITZER: But you've sort of pinned it down based on video that the Department of Defense released.

FOREMAN: Exactly. We thought it was over here. This turns out to be a school, a place where they train soldiers. This is a theater that they talked about early on in the process. But as it's all narrowed down, we now believe that this is the actual location -- the Readiness Center where thousands come and go to Iraq, Afghanistan or other postings and back through this area.

Now, we believe, from what the military has said, there was one gunman, two suspects. They still haven't clarified what role they've had, if any. We've been told he had two handguns, as Barbara Starr raised a while ago. A big, big question if you have a doctor Hasan se like this roaming around with handguns in some fashion.

Where did he get them?

How did he have them on the base?

And how did this come up to this moment?

We were told, I think, by Senator Hutchison, I believe, that he was going to deploy with some of the people here.

BLITZER: That was the initial reports. But we remember, initial reports...

FOREMAN: Initial reports...

BLITZER: ...sometimes turn out sometimes to be not true.

FOREMAN: Exactly. I mean we're sorting this out, just as you are at home and as the people are on the base, trying to give you the best interest we can as it comes in.

But we do believe that this is really where it all happened, in this area, right now. And we do know that this person -- this doctor worked at the hospital, which is just about a mile away over this way.

BLITZER: The Darnall Medical Center.


FOREMAN: The Darnall Medical Center.

BLITZER: Tom, hold -- hold that thought. The secretary of the Army has just issued a statement saying: "This is a terrible tragedy that we will know more about in the coming days. For now, our focus is squarely on taking care of our soldiers and their families."

This statement coming in from John McHugh, the former Congressman, now the secretary of the Army.

We're going to have extensive live coverage throughout the night here on CNN.

This is a horrible story that we're watching.

Our coverage continues now with Lou Dobbs.