Two days after the horrific shootings at the Fort Hood military base in Killeen, Texas, details continue to emerge about the suspect, Major Nidal Malik Hasan. The 39-year-old Army psychiatrist opened fire on his fellow soldiers Thursday, according to reports, killing 13 and wounding at least 30 before being shot four times by Sergeant Kimberly Munley, a civilian police officer employed by the Army, who many are praising as a hero who saved countless lives by stopping the rampage.
Hasan, whose job it was to counsel physically and psychologically wounded soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was described by those who knew him as a calm, gentle person, but one whose anger was stoked by alleged harassment from some of his Army peers over his Muslim faith.
Some facts about the shooting:
» Hasan was born in Arlington, Virginia, to Palestinian parents who ran a restaurant and bar in nearby Roanoke, and later owned a small grocery store. He is unmarried and has no children. The psychiatrist, who is still in a coma in a hospital following the rampage, reportedly opened fire with a handgun at the Solider Readiness Processing Center, where more than 300 unarmed soldiers were lining up for vaccines and eye tests, firing more than 100 rounds before being taken down by Munley and her partner. He reported for duty to Fort Hood in July 2008 after finishing a psychiatric fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2007. He was reportedly distraught over a pending deployment to the Afghanistan war front.
» Munley, 34, and her partner, responded to the chaotic scene within three minutes of a report of shots fired. Described in reports as a petite mother of two teenage daughters, she is credited with helping to stop the five-minute rampage with her decisive action. First to arrive on the scene, according to Time magazine, she engaged Hasan as he fired shots at her and brought him down using tactics learned following the 2007 Virginia Tech campus shootings. In that massacre, the gunman was able to continue firing because first responders were waiting for additional backup before engaging the shooter. CNN reported that Munley and partner Mark Todd pulled up alongside the building where the shooting was taking place and stood 15 yards away from Hasan as he calmly fired on his fellow officers. Todd said he yelled for Hasan to stop and drop his weapon, at which point the psychiatrist turned and began firing at the police. Both Munley and Todd took cover and fired at Hasan, hitting him four times as he returned fire. Munley was wounded in the arm and leg. At press time, she was in stable condition after undergoing surgery on Friday to repair damage to an artery.
» According to multiple reports, Hasan was the proud eldest son of Palestinian immigrants who faced harassment over his Muslim faith, but was not shy about sharing his political opinions in a strident manner that some felt was inappropriate for an Army major. During a 2007 presentation for an environmental health class, a colleague told Bloomberg news that while other students gave presentations on the environmental effects of dry-cleaning chemicals and mold, Hasan argued that Muslims were being targeted by the U.S. anti-terror campaign. He reportedly told classmates that he was "a Muslim first and an American second." While studying at Walter Reed and receiving a fellowship in disaster and preventive psychiatry, Hasan suffered "difficulties" that required some counseling and extra supervision, according to The New York Times. Six months ago, he came to the attention of law enforcement officials because of Internet postings that referred to suicide bombings and other threats, including posts that equated suicide bombers to soldiers who throw themselves on hand grenades to save the lives of comrades. Officials were not able to confirm that Hasan was the author of the postings and no formal investigation was opened.
» Thursday's attack was not the first incident of its kind in Killeen. In September 2008, 22-year-old Specialist Jody Michael Wirawan shot and killed an officer and then shot and killed himself when police arrived. And, on October 16, 1991, George Jo Hennard drove his pickup truck through the window of a cafeteria in Killeen and fatally shot 23 people and injured 20 more before killing himself, according to ABC News.
» Fort Hood is a U.S. Army base located near Killeen, Texas, that serves a population of more than 300,000 soldiers, officers, family members and retirees. It is one of the largest U.S. military installations in the world, covering more than 335 square miles, making it the only post in the U.S. capable of stationing and training two whole armored divisions. Construction began on the site in 1942 and its primary mission today is to maintain a state of readiness for U.S. combat missions. The majority of Fort Hood's population is between the ages of 25 and 34. According to Icasulaties.org, more soldiers from Fort Hood have died from Iraq (483) and Afghanistan (31) than any other U.S. military post.
It should be noted that the shootings at Fort Hood are an ongoing investigation and many facts remain unclear. For more information on related issues, such as depression (see HalfOfUs.org) and cultural tolerance (see Teaching Tolerance), and for a wealth of information on similar topics, see Think.MTV.com.