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 Memorial Service at Fort Hood

Fort Hood Shooting

Authorities say the soldier who opened fire on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood was an Iraq War veteran who was being treated for mental illness. Ivan Lopez allegedly killed three people and injured or wounded 16 before killing himself.

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4 months ago

Memorial Service at Fort Hood

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) - Returning again to a grief-stricken corner of America, President Barack Obama is reprising his role as chief comforter, mourning with families of those killed last week at Fort Hood and offering solace to the nation.

Tucson. Aurora. Newtown. Boston. Washington Navy Yard. Fort Hood - twice.

The names of these communities have all become synonymous with tragedy in the five years since Obama took office, each challenging the president to find ways to impart meaning to senseless death.

"Increasingly, giving these eulogies has become a central responsibility for our presidents," said Michael Waldman, who helped write many eulogies as President Bill Clinton's chief speechwriter. "A president is not just a political leader. He is the head of state and speaks for the whole country."

But as Obama returns to Fort Hood on Wednesday, he brings little in the way of solutions to offer a society that has been confounded by the frequency of events that have jolted Americans out of their sense of security. For a president who is on the path to ending two wars, warding off violence at home has proved an elusive challenge.

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrived late Wednesday morning at Fort Hood, where the camouflage fatigues of troops standing to salute his passing motorcade almost blended in with the desert terrain. Flags were lowered to half-staff at the sprawling Army base in central Texas, where Obama was meeting with victims' relatives before offering his public condolences.

The memorial was to take place at the same spot on the base where Obama eulogized victims of another mass shooting in 2009.

Those close to Obama say he sees his role after a tragedy as fulfilling a ministerial function for the nation. Valerie Jarrett, Obama's senior adviser and longtime friend, said although it's painful for Obama, he understands the importance for the president to show leadership, empathy and strength in times of crisis, and for him to spend time with each family member affected.

"It's hard because it's deeply personal for him," Jarrett said in an interview. "He identifies as a father, as a husband, as a son, as a family member."

The last time Obama came to Fort Hood, he told residents here that the 13 lives they lost would endure, their legacies safeguarded by the nation whose protection they had made their life's work.

"Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town, every dawn that a flag is unfurled, every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - that is their legacy," Obama said, adopting the role of comforter-in-chief for the first time.

Like an improbable bolt of lightning, tragedy has struck twice at Fort Hood. Army investigators are still piecing together what led to Spc. Ivan Lopez's deadly, eight-minute rampage last week, on the same sprawling post where an Army psychiatrist unloaded on his comrades five years earlier.

To be sure, Obama is not the first president called on to help Americans in their grief. Ronald Reagan had the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, Bill Clinton had Oklahoma City and George W. Bush had 9/11, to say nothing of the wars that American troops have fought overseas.

But for much of the country's history, the role fell largely to the vice president, said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. Modern transportation, around-the-clock media and the public's demand for answers has put a spotlight on the president's personal response to catastrophes.

"It is an evolving role of any president in a hyper-YouTube age to make sure you get your boot heels on the ground and you go to those memorials," Brinkley said, calling the president "the de facto spokesperson for our grief."

In the days after a 20-year-old gunned down elementary school students in Newtown, Conn., Obama said he had been reflecting on whether America was doing enough to prevent such violence. He concluded that it was not.

"We can't tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change," Obama said as he consoled heartbroken parents at a prayer vigil.

There are few signs today that a new push to address such societal ills through public policy is in the works.

Obama's efforts to seek stronger gun control protections fell flat in Congress. What some hoped could be a productive national conversation about mental health raised fears that patients could be stigmatized by the actions of criminals.

In the face of such long odds, the president may be reluctant to generate undue hope that the nation will enact new laws or programs. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama's speech Wednesday will focus on the victims and their families, not on policy.

After Newtown, the National Rifle Association pushed back against new gun control legislation, insisting that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." For proponents of more gun control, those words ring hollow following an insider attack on a base housing America's good guys with guns.

But for gun control foes - and there are plenty in Texas - equally hollow is the notion that the government can prevent such tragedies. Even after Fort Hood's second deadly shooting, military officials have warned that screening all soldiers for weapons as they enter the 108,000-acre base isn't feasible.

Adding complexity to the president's response are questions about whether the suspect's wartime service precipitated his actions. Although Lopez did a short stint in Iraq in 2011 and said he suffered a traumatic brain injury, Fort Hood officials have said his mental condition was not a "direct participating factor" in the shooting.

Such is the fraught political terrain that Obama's speechwriters must traverse as the president prepares, once again, to console a nation in grief. Craig Smith, a speechwriter in the Ford and first Bush administrations, said Obama, not his writers, makes the call about how far to go and whether to use the speech as a call to action.

"What you want to do is praise the people who lost their lives and use them to display certain virtues and values that the public needs to believe in at this moment," Smith said.


Follow Josh Lederman at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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4 months ago

Argument Before Fort Hood Shooting

FORT HOOD (NBC News) - Military investigators have confirmed that a "verbal altercation" preceded Wednesday's deadly shooting spree at Fort Hood.

"We do have credible information that he was involved in a verbal altercation with soldiers from his unit just prior to him allegedly opening fire," Army CID spokesman Chris Gray said late Friday.

One of the witnesses to that altercation was Sgt. Jonathan Westbrook, who was wounded in the shooting.

Sgt. Westbrook told his father Ivan Lopez came into the office to pick up a form to request time off, but was told to come back later.

Lopez returned with a gun and started firing.

"The first guy he shot right in front of my son was killed, and then he turned the gun towards Jonathan, aimed it, and fired. I don't know how many times he fired, but he hit my son four times," Westbrook says.

Read more: http://bitly.com/1lvQPBt

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4 months ago

President Obama to Attend Fort Hood Memorial Service

FORT HOOD, TEXAS (AP) - A White House aide says President Barack Obama plans to attend a memorial service Wednesday at Fort Hood - the site of last week's shooting rampage.

A Fort Hood spokesman confirms there will be a remembrance ceremony that day, and presidential adviser Dan Pfeiffer tells CBS' "Face the Nation" that Obama will be there.

Investigators say that an Army truck driver, Ivan Lopez, had an argument before opening fire at the Texas post last Wednesday, killing three soldiers and wounding 16 others before taking his own life.

Fort Hood's commander hasn't discussed the cause of the argument.

The attack was the second at the base since 2009, when 13 people were killed in a shooting by an Army psychiatrist.

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4 months ago

Fort Hood: The Victims

(NBC News) There were hours of waiting and worry Wednesday for Theodis Westbrook, whose son, Sgt. Jonathan Westbrook, works inside the personnel office at Fort Hood.

Sgt. Westbrook told his father Ivan Lopez came into the office to pick up a form to request time off, but was told to come back later.

Lopez returned with a gun and started firing.

"The first guy he shot right in front of my son was killed, and then he turned the gun towards Jonathan, aimed it, and fired. I don't know how many times he fired, but he hit my son four times," Westbrook says.

Lopez's family released a statement saying the deaths of his mother and grandfather as well as a base change affected his already trouble mental state and that he "must not have been in his right mind."

Read more: http://nbcnews.to/1lvQPBt

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4 months ago

Father of Fort Hood Gunman Says Family in Shock

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - The father of Ivan (ee-VAHN') Lopez says he's struggling to comprehend how his son could have opened fire on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas.

In a statement from his native Puerto Rico, the elder Ivan Lopez calls for prayers for the three people killed and 16 wounded in the attack. His brief statement Friday was his first since the shooting at the Army base where his son was stationed.

The motive remains unknown. Officials have said Lopez was being treated for depression and anxiety and was involved in a verbal dispute just before the shooting.

The father recalled Lopez as a peaceful man and hard worker but apparently struggling with the recent deaths of his mother and grandfather and the stress of transferring to a new base.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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4 months ago

Fort Hood Investigation Continues

FORT HOOD - The investigation continues at Fort Hood this morning.

After 4 soldiers, including the suspected gunman were killed. 16 others injured, in the second mass shooting at the Nation's largest Army post in the last five years.

Soldiers and civilians are back at their posts this morning here at Fort Hood but it will be a long time before anything seems anywhere close to "normal" again here.

Investigators and so many in this grieving community, continue this morning to search for answers.

Military officials believe 34 year old Army Specialist Ivan Lopez chose his victims at random, after an argument with fellow soldiers.

Lt. General Mark Milley, Commander, Fort Hood, said, "there's a strong possibility that in fact preceded the shooting. But we do not have that fact definitively at this point. But we do have strong indications of that."

On a post filled with combat veterans, many who moved in to help.

Lt. General Mark Milley said, "There were several instances of clear heroism here."

The military policewoman- who confronted Lopez before he apparently turned his gun on himself, an Army Chaplain, injured as he jumped into the line of fire.

Lt. General Mark Milley said, "He shielded some individuals, broke some windows, and got them out to safety."

But there were three soldiers who did not escape the massacre, including Sergeant Timothy Owens.

Mary Louise Muntean, Timothy Owens' Mother said, "I was proud of him, very proud of him, because he was fighting for our Country."

The ten year Army veteran served in both Iraq and Kuwait, but did not survive an attack here, at home.

President Obama said, "To see unspeakable senseless violence happen in a place they're supposed to be safe, home base, is tragic."

A tragedy investigators admit they may never fully understand.

Understanding this community will search for during a prayers service this evening, and a memorial for the victims being planned for next week.

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4 months ago

Fort Hood Victim: Sgt. Timothy Owens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - The mother of a 37-year-old Illinois soldier killed during an attack at Fort Hood, Texas, says she was reunited less than two weeks earlier with a daughter she gave up for adoption at birth.

Mary Muntean of Effingham, Ill., told The Associated Press that she was still celebrating that reunion when she got a call telling her that her son, U.S. Army Sgt. Timothy Owens, was killed Wednesday in the attack at Fort Hood. He was one of four soldiers - including the gunman - killed. Another 16 were wounded.

Muntean told the AP she has heart problems and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Her 54-year-old daughter sought her out, and the two met on March 23, she said.

"She finds one child and loses another," said Betty Goodwin, Muntean's niece and Owens' cousin.

Sitting on her recliner on Wednesday, Muntean saw news on television of the attack at Fort Hood.

Unable to reach her son, she called his new wife, Billie Owens, who first said he was in the hospital. Before long, Owens' wife called back, and Muntean had her worst fears confirmed.

"She said, 'Mom, I want to tell you how sorry I am. Tim's gone,'" Muntean said. "I broke down. I'm 77 years old and I can't hardly take this."

Owens' cousin, Glen Welton of Effingham, said Owens grew up with military dreams.

"He was one of those kids who wanted to wear camouflage and wanted to wear bomber jackets and sunglasses," said Welton, himself a National Guard veteran of Iraq. "It took him a few years before he got himself in."

Owens dropped out of high school in 1995, according to his mother and school records. But she said he earned his GED diploma after joining the Army in 2004.

Welton said he ran into Owens last year at a funeral and the two figured out they'd served in Iraq at the same time. Welton was there from 2005-06.

A photo from that day shows Welton with his arm around Owens, who wore his Army dress uniform, including a beret, and a pair of dark sunglasses.

"He had grown into a man. The military had made him a complete man," Goodwin said. "I sure know he cleaned up pretty with his uniform."

A trauma center outside the base said the conditions had improved for three people who sustained critical injuries in the attack. Dr. Matthew Davis, trauma director at Scott & White Memorial Hospital, expressed optimism nobody else would die from their injuries. Several patients were released from the hospital Thursday.

One of the wounded was identified as Maj. Patrick Miller, a 32-year-old Iraq War veteran from western New York, the state's Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday. Miller, who lives with his wife outside Austin, Texas, is a native of Allegany in Cattaraugus County. Information on his condition hasn't been released.

Efforts to contact Miller's family members by phone and email on Thursday weren't initially successful. His parents, Carole and Dr. John Miller, were en route to Texas Thursday, according to local media reports.




(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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4 months ago

All Possibilities of Motive Remain Open in Fort Hood Shooting Investigation

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) - The soldier who killed three people at Fort Hood may have argued with another service member shortly before the attack, and investigators believe his unstable mental health contributed to the rampage, authorities said Thursday.

The base's senior officer, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, said there is a "strong possibility" that Spc. Ivan Lopez had a "verbal altercation" with another soldier or soldiers immediately before Wednesday's shooting, which unfolded on the same Army post that was the scene of an infamous 2009 mass shooting.

However, there's no indication that he targeted specific soldiers, Milley said.

Lopez never saw combat during a deployment to Iraq and had shown no apparent risk of violence before the shooting, officials said.

The 34-year-old truck driver seemed to have a clean record that showed no ties to extremist groups. But the Army secretary promised that investigators would keep all avenues open in their inquiry of the soldier whose rampage ended only after he fired a final bullet into his own head.

"We're not making any assumptions by that. We're going to keep an open mind and an open investigation. We will go where the facts lead us," Army Secretary John McHugh said, explaining that "possible extremist involvement is still being looked at very, very carefully."

A hospital official expressed optimism Thursday that none of the 16 people who were wounded in the shooting would die.

Three critically wounded patients at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in nearby Temple were expected to survive. Several others were to be discharged Thursday, said Dr. Matthew Davis, the hospital's trauma director.

Scott & White is the area's only trauma center, and any patients with life-threatening injuries would probably go there. The hospital had no information about patients being treated elsewhere, including at a base hospital.

Within hours of Wednesday's assault, investigators started looking into whether Lopez had lingering psychological trauma from his time in Iraq. Fort Hood's senior officer, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, said the shooter had sought help for depression, anxiety and other problems, and was taking medication.

Among the possibilities investigators were exploring was whether a fight or argument on the base triggered the attack.

Investigators searched the soldier's home Thursday and questioned his wife, Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug said.

Lopez apparently walked into a building Wednesday and began firing a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol. He then got into a vehicle and continued firing before entering another building. He was eventually confronted by military police in a parking lot, according to Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, senior officer on the base.

As he came within 20 feet of a police officer, the gunman put his hands up but then reached under his jacket and pulled out his gun. The officer drew her own weapon, and the suspect put his gun to his head and pulled the trigger a final time, Milley said.

Lopez grew up in Guayanilla, a town of fewer than 10,000 people on the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico, with a mother who was a nurse at a public clinic and a father who did maintenance for an electric utility company.

Glidden Lopez Torres, who said he was a friend speaking for the family, said Lopez's mother died of a heart attack in November.

The soldier was upset that he was granted only a 24-hour leave to attend her funeral, which was delayed for nearly a week so he could be there, the spokesman said. The leave was then extended to two days.

Lopez joined the island's National Guard in 1999 and served on a yearlong peacekeeping mission in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in the mid-2000s. He enlisted with the Army in 2008, McHugh said.

Lopez saw no combat during a four-month deployment to Iraq as a truck driver in 2011. A review of his service record showed no Purple Heart, indicating he was never wounded, McHugh said. He arrived at Fort Hood in February from Fort Bliss, Texas.

He saw a psychiatrist last month and showed no "sign of any likely violence either to himself or others," McHugh said.

Suzie Miller, a 71-year-old retired property manager who lived in the same Killeen apartment complex as Lopez, said few people knew him and his wife well because they had just moved in a few weeks ago.

"I'd see him in his uniform heading out to the car every morning," Miller said. "He was friendly to me and a lot of us around here."

Shaneice Banks, a 21-year-old business-management student who lived downstairs from the Lopezes, said her husband, who also works at Fort Hood, helped the couple move in. Hours before the shooting, Banks said she ran in to Lopez when he came home for lunch.

"He was going to his car, and I was like 'Hey, how's your day going?' And he seemed perfectly fine. He was like, 'Day's going pretty good. I'll see you whenever I come back home.'"

When word came out that there was a shooting at the base, Banks saw Lopez's wife frantically calling her husband over and over, trying to reach him via cellphone from the apartment's shared courtyard.

"She was bawling because they have a 2-year-old, and she was just holding the baby," Banks said. "My heart just went out to her. I was trying to get her information when I could but she doesn't speak a lot of English."

Xanderia Morris lives next door to Banks. She also saw Karla Lopez distraught in the courtyard.

"We tried to console her. She called some people over, and we were consoling her, and then she started up the stairs back to his apartment, and they identified him as the shooter on television. She just broke down. We had to rush her up the stairs so nothing would happen to her," Morris said.

Neighbors took Lopez into Morris' apartment, where she sat crying on the sofa for a long time.

The shootings revived memories of the November 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, the deadliest attack on a domestic military installation in U.S. history. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 were wounded.

Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan was convicted last year in that assault, which he has said was to protect Islamic insurgents abroad from American aggression.

After that shooting, the military tightened base security nationwide.

In September, a former Navy man opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard, leaving 13 people dead, including the gunman. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the Pentagon to review security at all U.S. defense installations worldwide.


Associated Press writers Ramit Plushnick-Masti in Houston; Christopher Sherman in McAllen; Robert Burns, Eric Tucker and Alicia Caldwell in Washington; and Dánica Coto in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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4 months ago

Details About Fort Hood Gunman

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) - Officials at Fort Hood have released few details about the gunman who killed three people before taking his own life in a shooting Wednesday at the sprawling Army base. Here's what we know about the gunman.

- His name was Ivan (ee-VAHN') Lopez and he came from Puerto Rico. He was married, had other family members and lived in the Fort Hood area, having arrived at the post in February from another military base in Texas. He was assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) at Fort Hood, which is a logistics and support unit. Officials did not release his rank on Wednesday, but said he was not in the process of leaving the Army.

- Lopez served for four months in Iraq in 2011. Army Secretary John McHugh said Lopez did not see combat in Iraq. He was not wounded in action while serving overseas, but self-reported a traumatic brain injury upon his return to the U.S. "He was not a wounded warrior," said Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the senior officer at Fort Hood. "He was not wounded in action, to our records, no Purple Heart, not wounded in action in that regard."

- Lopez had several mental health issues. He was taking medication and receiving psychiatric help for depression and anxiety, and was undergoing a process to determine whether he had post-traumatic stress disorder. "We do not know a motive," Milley said. "We do know that this soldier had behavioral health and mental health issues, and was being treated for that."

- Lopez had one weapon, a .45 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun, that was not registered with post authorities as required. Authorities don't yet know how much ammunition he was carrying.

- Lopez died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He killed himself in a parking lot at the base transportation brigade's administration building, after he was confronted by a military policewoman. "It was clearly heroic, what she did at that moment in time," Milley said. "She did her job, and she did exactly what we would expect of United States Army military police."

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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4 months ago

Fort Hood Shooter Was Undergoing Testing For PTSD

FORT HOOD - Federal agents and Army Investigators continue to search for answers at Fort Hood this morning.

After a soldier opened fire yesterday, killing 3 and injuring 16 before apparently turning his gun on himself.

It's the second time in the last five year's there's been a fatal attack by a soldier here at the nation's largest Army post - which remained locked down until late last night.

All-clear, but still far from OK at Fort Hood.

Lt General Mark Milley, Fort Hood, said, "He walked into one of unit buildings opened fires got in vehicle fired from vehicle got out walked into other building and opened fire again."

Three people were killed, 16 injured in the attack before the suspected gunman -identified by military sources as 34 year old Ivan Lopez- apparently turned his weapon on himself.

Lt General Mark Milley, Fort Hood, said, "We do not know a motive soldier had behavior and mental health issues and was being treated for that

Lopez was also undergoing diagnostic testing for post traumatic stress disorder.

Officials say in 2011, he served 4 months of combat duty in Iraq.

Xanderia Morris, neighbor of suspected shooter, said, "You never know who you live next door to."

Xanderia Morris says she was with the wife of the suspected gunman - when she heard the tragic news.

Xanderia Morris said, "She wasn't able to say anything, she just broke down. She was hurting and in disbelief."

Shock and pain being felt in Central Texas.

Dr. Matt Davis, Chief of Trauma Service, Baylor Scott & White Hospital, said, "We all feel indebted to the men and women who put themselves in harms way, and it's heart breaking to be so close to such a tragic event as this."

Tragedy being felt across the country.

President Obama, said, "We're heartbroken that something like this might have happened again."

In 2009 Major Nidal Hassan, opened fire at Fort Hood, the Nation's Largest Army Post, killing 13 and injuring at least 30.

Sergeant John Mark Wasinon, Fort Hood, said, "In 2009, I was here and this thing happen again, and it's unbelievable."

And unbearable for the families and friends of those lost and injured.

The Commanding Officer here says the attack was not an act of terror but investigators have not said what may have sparked the shooting rampage.

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4 months ago

Fort Hood Shooting: 4 Dead, 16 Wounded

KILLEEN, Texas - Four people were dead, including the gunman, and at least 16 others were wounded in a shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, military officials told NBC News.

The gunman, identified as Ivan Lopez, 34 - an enlisted soldier - took his own life with a .45-caliber Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol, officials said.

A U.S. military official told NBC News that Lopez was active-duty soldier who was assigned to a Sustainment Brigade. He served at least one tour in Iraq and was a former member of the Army National Guard in Puerto Rico, the official said.

Milley, who didn't use Lopez' name pending family notification, said that the gunman was being evaluated for post traumatic stress disorder, and had self reported a traumatic brain injury. He had not been wounded in Iraq, but was being treated for behavioral problems, anxiety and "a number of other psychological issues," according to Milley.

Three other people died in local hospitals, they said.The conditions of the 16 people who were wounded were unreported, but military officials said at least one was in "extremely grave" condition.

All of the wounded and killed were military, according to Lt. General Mark Milley, who spoke to reporters at the base after the shooting.

Doctors at Scott & White Memorial Hospital said they were treating four patients, some stable and others in "quite critical" condition. Two more patients were en route and were expected to be taken directly to surgery for what were described as very serious injuries.

Dr. Harry Papaconstantinou told reporters the victims' injuries included gunshots to their extremities, abdomens, chests and necks.

Others were being treated at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center on base.

"This was another sad day for central Texas," said Dr. Glen Couchman, the hospital's chief medical officer.

Fort Hood is the same base where a military psychiatrist who proclaimed jihad against the U.S. killed 13 people 4½ years ago.

But military officials told NBC News the shooting appeared to have stemmed from a personal dispute at a motor pool and was unrelated to terrorism.

President Barack Obama spoke after the shooting, saying, "We're heartbroken something like this might have happened again."

He added, "We're following it closely. ... I want to just assure all of us we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened."

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, traveling in Hawaii, told reporters he had little information, but called the event a "terrible tragedy."

Witnesses and military officials said the shooting occurred about 4:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. ET). The base's emergency alert system immediately sounded, and all personnel were told to shelter in place.

The "all-clear" siren wasn't sounded until about 8:45 p.m. (9:45 ET) - almost four hours after the base was locked down and sealed off.

Few details were immediately available, but a supervisor at Scott & White Memorial Hospital told NBC News that the hospital was "setting up a command center."

Bell County and state public safety deputies were securing the perimeter of the area, a senior local law enforcement source said.

The FBI was also on scene to support law enforcement, according to the sources.

Waco police told the public to avoid the fort, saying on Twitter that "there is an on-going active shooter."

Nevertheless, dozens of friends and relatives of Fort Hood personnel gathered in the base's visitors' center seeking information about loved ones, NBC station KCEN of Waco reported.

Antonio Ortiz, 30, who lives a quarter of a mile from the east gate of Fort Hood, said he heard a commotion and went outside to hear alarms going off and announcements for people to stay inside.

He went back in and turned on the TV news, then soon after heard a barrage of gunshots.

"It sounded powerful," he said, adding that while it seemed to be coming from the base, he couldn't rule out the possibility someone in the civilian neighborhood was shooting.

"I'm scared for my son. He's 7," Ortiz said. "But I do have a 12-gauge pump shotgun."

Central Texas College nearby was being evacuated, and all Thursday evening classes at the college and at Fort Hood were canceled, the college said.

And several lawmakers - in and out of Texas - called for prayers afterwards.

Maj. Nidal Hasan was convicted in August of the killing in November 2009 and injured 32 others. He has since been sentenced to death.

In September, a gunman opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard, killing 12 and wounding four before being slain by police. Last month, a civilian shot dead a sailor aboard a ship at a U.S. Navy base in Norfolk, Va.

Courtney Kube, Tom Winter, Tracy Connor, Hasani Gittens and Monica Alba of NBC News contributed to this report. This is a developing story. Refresh this page for more.

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4 months ago

Shelter in Place at Fort Hood for Active Shooting

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) - Fort Hood said Wednesday that a shooting happened at the Texas Army base and that injuries have been reported.

The base confirmed the shooting in a brief statement posted online Wednesday. The statement also said emergency crews were on the scene and that further details were not yet known.

The Bell's County Sheriff's Office dispatched deputies and troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety to the nearby post after receiving reports of an "active shooter," sheriff's Lt. Donnie Adams said. FBI spokeswoman Michelle Lee said its agents were also headed to the scene.

The base was the scene of a mass shooting in 2009. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 wounded in what was the deadliest attack on a domestic military installation in history.

On its Twitter feed and Facebook page, Fort Hood on Wednesday ordered everyone on base to "shelter in place." The 1st Calvary Division, which is based at Fort Hood, sent a Twitter alert telling people on base to close doors and stay away from windows.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the president has been informed of the reports of a shooting at Fort Hood and will continue to receive updates as he attends a pair of Democratic Party fundraisers in Chicago.

Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan was convicted and sentenced to death last year in the Nov. 5, 2009, attack on his fellow soldiers as they waited inside a crowded building at Fort Hood. Soldiers there were waiting to get vaccines and routine paperwork after recently returning from deployments or while preparing to go to Afghanistan and Iraq.

According to testimony during Hasan's trial last August, Hasan walked inside carrying two weapons and several loaded magazines, shouted "Allahu Akbar!" - Arabic for "God is great!" - and opened fire with a handgun.

Witnesses said he targeted soldiers as he walked through the building, leaving pools of blood, spent casings and dying soldiers on the floor. Photos of the scene were shown to the 13 officers on the military jury.

The rampage ended when Hasan was shot in the back by Fort Hood police officers outside the building, which left him paralyzed from the waist down. Hasan is now on death row at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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