10 minutes of gunfire 10 years ago left 13 dead, more than 30 injured

On Nov. 5, 2009 Nidal Malik Hasan fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 others,...
On Nov. 5, 2009 Nidal Malik Hasan fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 others, before Fort Hood civilian police Sergeant Mark Todd shot him, ending the rampage. (File)(KWTX)
Published: Nov. 4, 2019 at 1:26 PM CST
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Ten years ago on Thursday Nov. 5, 2009, a day that had dawned chilly but bright in Killeen, quickly turned bloody as a U.S. Army psychiatrist walked into an on-post resiliency center and began shooting.

Nidal Malik Hasan fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 others, before Fort Hood civilian police Sergeant Mark Todd shot him, ending the rampage.

Of the 13 killed, 11 died at the scene and two others died later, after being taken to hospitals.

One of those killed was pregnant, yet her baby who also died, never has been individually counted on the list of victims.

The shooting still ranks as the worst mass shooting at a military installation in U.S. history.

Hasan’s wounds left him paralyzed from the waist down, but shortly thereafter he was formally charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Those were the charges he faced at court-martial that began Aug. 7, 2013 during which Hasan acted as his own attorney.

He admitted he was the gunman in his opening statement and had beforehand told a judge that he had gunned down the soldiers at Fort Hood who were being deployed to protect Muslims and Taliban leaders in Afghanistan.

Hasan called no witnesses, presented only scant evidence and made no closing argument.

On Aug. 23, 2013, the court-martial jury found him guilty of all 42 counts, and then five days later set his punishment at death.

Hasan, dressed in Army fatigues, showed no reaction as the 13-member panel of senior officers handed down the death sentence.

If the decision had not been unanimous, Hasan would have been sentenced to life in prison, instead.

The panel also stripped Hasan of pay and other financial benefits, which he had continued to receive while in custody before conviction.

Hasan was flown to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he is one of six service members awaiting execution on the military’s death row.

Those who care for him there, along with his lawyer, John Galligan, of Belton, say it’s far more likely he’ll die from his injuries than by execution.

No active-duty service member has been executed since 1961, and legal experts said it will probably be many years, if ever, before the sentence will be carried out.

Hasan shouted “Allahu Akbar” and then opened fire

Ultimately investigation showed Hasan, at 1:34 p.m. on Nov, 5, 2009, walked into the Soldier Readiness Center, the place where soldiers went for routine medical attention in advance of deployment, just prior to shipping out to Afghanistan.

Hasan was carrying an FN 5-7 handgun he’d fitted with two laser sights, one red and one green, and an older model Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver, which he didn’t use.

He stopped at the first desk inside the north door and asked to see a Maj. Parrish, an officer who’d been assisting Hasan preparing for deployment.

A witness said the soldier manning the desk got up and went down a hallway to find the officer and while he was gone, Hasan slipped behind his desk, for several seconds bowed his head as if in prayer, abruptly stood up, shouted "Allahu Akbar!" (Arabic: God is great) and started indiscriminately spraying the room with gunfire.

After first firing randomly, the witness said, Hasan began targeting individual soldiers and shooting them.

U.S. Army Reserve Capt. John P Gaffney ran at Hasan as he fired, but was mortally wounded before reaching him, as was civilian physician assistant Michael Cahill of Cameron who charged Hasan with a chair but was shot and killed.

Army Reserve Spc. Logan Burnett, just seconds later as he threw a table at Hasan, was shot in the left hip, fell and was able to crawl to safety in a nearby office cubicle.

Another Army specialist who was at the back of the building where Parrish worked, severely cut his hand when he broke out an office window through which Parrish, two other soldiers and he were able to escape into a parking lot.

Hasan still was roaming the building, targeting and shooting soldiers as he went, but though he had several opportunities, he didn’t fire on civilians for the most part, instead opting for uniformed soldiers as targets.

“At one point, Hasan reportedly approached a group of five civilians hiding under a desk,” a U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division report issued after the incident noted.

“He looked at them, swept the dot of his pistol's laser sight over one of the men's faces, and turned away without firing.”

Deputy Director of Human Resources for Fort Hood Lt. Col. Tom Eberhart arrived, rushed inside the medical building to offer help and later recalled he had to step over bodies to enter the building's north door.

He recalled folding chairs being strewn about the room in the building’s waiting area and while there assisted another soldier performing CPR on a wounded man, then noticed a soldier outside the south doors and went to him to help.

Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, a medical assistant from the building, lay unconscious and had two wounds to his abdomen and one in his scalp.

Eberhart commandeered a table and he and other soldiers placed Lunsford on it and took him inside to triage.

On the other side of the building Hasan had moved outside but still was firing at soldiers when civilian police Sgt. Kimberly Munley encountered him.

The two immediately exchanged gunfire that left Munley wounded in the hand by shrapnel, then two bullets struck Munley, the first in her thigh and a second one hit her knee.

The investigator’s report noted Hasan walked up to Munley, kicked her pistol out of reach, but did not kill her.

As the rampage continued outside, nurses and others rushed into the building trying to aid the wounded and dying, but: “according to the responding nurses, there was so much blood covering the floor inside the building, that they were unable to maintain balance, and had difficulty reaching the wounded to help them,” the CID report said.

Herman Toro, Director of the Soldier Readiness Center, got to the scene just as Hasan went around an outside corner, out of sight, but still shooting.

“Toro and another site worker rushed to assist Lt. Col. Juanita Warman who was down on the ground north of the medical building,” the report says.

They grabbed her by the arms and were trying to take her to safety when Hasan returned.

Toro told investigators he watched as the red laser sight dot from Hasan’s pistol danced across his chest, but he did not fire.

Toro took cover behind an electrical box and from there saw Todd arrive, confront and shout commands at Hasan to surrender.

"Then he turned and fired a couple of rounds at me,” Toro recalled, but “I didn't hear him say a word, he just turned and fired."

Toro later would testify he watched as Todd and Hasan exchanged gunfire until Hasan emptied his weapon, then as he was digging for another magazine, was felled by five shots from Todd.

Todd “ran over to him, kicked the pistol out of his hand, and put handcuffs on him as he fell unconscious,” Todd said.

Within about 10 minutes the shooting was over, but the carnage left behind was just unfolding.

At first police thought there were three gunmen and for a time two other soldiers were detained, but they subsequently were released after investigators discovered they weren’t involved.

Hasan was prepared to kill more

Investigators reported they found 146 spent shell casings inside the building and 68 more outside, accounting for 214 rounds being fired either by Hasan or officers who subdued him.

Pretrial testimony showed Hasan, on July 31, 2009, purchased the FN Five-seven semi-automatic pistol that he would use in the attack.

Army Spc. William Gilbert, a regular customer at the gun store, said Hasan walked in and asked for "the most technologically advanced weapon on the market and the one with the highest standard magazine capacity".

Hasan was asked what he wanted the pistol for, but refused to answer, Gilbert said.

Hasan left, saying he wanted to research the weapon, then returned the next day and purchased it.

Over the next few weeks he visited the store once a week to buy extra magazines, along with 3,000 total rounds of 5.7x28mm SS192 and SS197SR ammunition.

In the weeks prior to the attack, Hasan visited an outdoor shooting range in Florence, where he honed his skills at hitting silhouette targets at distances of up to 100 yards, trial testimony showed.

No soldiers at the readiness center were armed because the Army prohibits soldiers from carrying personal weapons while in uniform.

In addition to the expended rounds, one of the medics who treated Hasan at the scene reported to investigators “he was still carrying 177 rounds of unfired ammunition in his pockets, contained in both 20- and 30-round magazines.”

The investigation was intense and from the beginning involved both military and civilian law enforcement groups, including the lead investigators from CID, augmented by the local civilian police investigators, Texas Rangers, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, Bell County Sheriff’s deputies and FBI agents from field offices in San Antonio, Austin and Waco.

Bell County played a major role in the story as Hasan waited for court martial because it was in the Bell County Jail where Hasan was housed for almost four years.

The jail had to build a hospital intensive care unit in the jail infirmary where Hasan was housed after he was released from an Army hospital and was awaiting court martial.

Colleagues were concerned about Hasan’s increasing radicalization

The son of Palestinian immigrants who ran a Roanoke restaurant and convenience store Hasan was born in Virginia, graduated from Virginia Tech completed his psychiatry training at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., in 2003 and moved on to residency at Walter Reed Medical Center in in Washington, D.C. where he was tasked with treating soldiers returning from war with post-traumatic stress disorder.

He promoted to major in May 2009, and two months later was sent to Fort Hood, at the time the largest active-duty U.S. military post in the world, where more than 50,000 military personnel were stationed, along with thousands more family members and civilian personnel.

Reports surfaced within days in the media that a Joint Terrorism Task Force had been aware of a series of e-mails between Hasan and the Yemen-based Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, a known NSA security threat.

The reports also indicated Hasan's colleagues had been aware of, and concerned about, his increasing radicalization for several years.

On May 17, 2007, One of Hasan's supervisors at Walter Reed sent the memo to the Walter Reed credentials committee that read: "Memorandum for: Credentials Committee. Subject: CPT Nidal Hasan."

The document warns: “The Faculty has serious concerns about CPT Hasan's professionalism and work ethic. ... He demonstrates a pattern of poor judgment and a lack of professionalism."

Maj. Scott Moran, chief of psychiatric residents at Walter Reed, signed the memo.

Two leading psychiatrists who later saw the memo said it was so damning, it might could have ruined Hasan's career had he applied for a job outside the Army.

Heroic acts honored

Five days after the rampage, then President Barack Obama spoke at a post memorial service for the 13 victims of the shooting rampage.

“This is a time of war. Yet these Americans did not die on a foreign field of battle. They were killed here, on American soil, in the heart of this great state and the heart of this great American community. This is the fact that makes the tragedy even more painful, even more incomprehensible,” he said.

“For those families who have lost a loved one, no words can fill the void that's been left. We knew these men and women as soldiers and caregivers. You knew them as mothers and fathers; sons and daughters; sisters and brothers,” he said.

“But here is what you must also know: Your loved ones endure through the life of our nation. Their memory will be honored in the places they lived and by the people they touched. Their life's work is our security, and the freedom that we all too often take for granted. 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.”

On Nov. 5, 2010, the first anniversary of the shootings, 52 individuals received awards for their actions on the day of the massacre.

They included a posthumous award pf the Soldier's Medal to Capt. John Gaffaney, who died trying to charge the shooter; and that decoration was presented to seven other soldiers, as well.

The Soldier's Medal is awarded to any person of the United States armed services who, while serving in any capacity with the military of the United States, including reserves who are not serving on active duty at the time of the heroic act, distinguished himself or herself by heroism not involving conflict with an enemy, the Department of Defense website says.

"It is the highest honor a soldier can receive for an act of valor in a non-combat situation, held to be equal to or greater than the level which would have justified an award of the Distinguished Flying Cross or Distinguished Service Cross had the act occurred in combat," the DOD says.

For enlisted men and women the Soldier's Medal comes with an extra benefit: "Any enlisted American service member who is eligible for retirement pay will receive an increase of 10 percent in retirement pay, if the level of valor was equal to that which would earn the (Distinguished Flying Cross or Distinguished Service Cross."

Civilian police Sgts. Kimberly Munley and Mark Todd were awarded the Secretary of the Army Award for Valor for their roles in neutralizing the shooter that day.

The May 23, 2011, civilian physician's assistant Michael Cahill, who died while charging Hasan with a chair, posthumously was awarded the Army Award for Valor.

Finally, on Feb. 6, 2015, the Department of Defense, in a news release, announced then Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh had approved awarding the Purple Heart and its civilian counterpart, the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom, to all victims of the shooting.

Fort Hood’s dead

Michael Grant Cahill, 62, of Cameron, a civilian physician's assistant, killed while he was trying to subdue the shooter.

Capt. John P Gaffaney, 56, Sierra Mesas, California, also shot while charging the shooter.

Spc. Frederick Greene, 29, Mountain City, Tennessee, also shot while trying to subdue the shooter.

Maj. Libardo Eduardo Caraveo, Woodbridge, Virginia.

Staff Sgt. Justin Michael DeCrow, 32, Plymouth, Indiana, shot in the chest.

Spc. Jason Dean Hunt, 22, Norman, Oklahoma, shot in the back.

Staff Sgt. Amy Sue Krueger, 29, Keil, Washington, shot in the chest.

Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka, 19, West Jordon, Utah, shot in the chest.

Pfc. Michael S. Pearson, 22, Bolingbrook, Illinois, shot in the chest.

Capt. Russell Gilbert Seager, 51, Racine, Washington.

Pfc. Francheska Velez, 21, Chicago, Illinois, shot in the chest, and was pregnant when she died. Her unborn baby, who died as well, has never been counted among the fatalities individually.

Lt. Col. Juanita L. Warman, 55, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, shot in the Abdomen.

Pfc. Kham See Xiong, 23, Saint Paul, Minnesota, shot in the head.

Fort Hood’s wounded

Spc. James Armstrong, leg wound; Sgt. Patrick Blue, III, struck by bullet fragments; Spc. Keara Bono Torkelson, shoulder and head wounds; Spc. Logan M. Burnett, shot in the hip, left elbow and hand; Spc. Alan Carroll, shot in the upper right arm, right bicep, left side of back, and left leg; Capt. Dorothy Carskadon, Shot in the leg, hip, and stomach, grazed on the forehead and permanently disabled.

Also wounded were Staff Sgt. Joy Clark, shot in forearm; Spc. Matthew D. Cooke, shot five times in the head, back, groin and buttocks; Staff Sgt. Chad Davis, shot in the shoulder; Pvt. Mick Engnehl, shot in the shoulder and neck; Pvt. Joseph T. Foster, shot in the hip; Pvt. Amber Bahr Gadlin, shot in the back; and Sgt. Nathan Hewitt, shot twice in the leg.

Sgt. Alvin Howard was shot in the left shoulder; Pvt. Najee M Hull was shot in the knee and twice in the back; Staff Sgt. Eric Williams Jackson was shot in the right arm; Pvt. Justin T. Johnson was shot twice in the back and in the foot; Staff Sgt. Alonzo M. Lunsford, Jr. was shot seven times, including in the head; Staff Sgt. Shawn M. Manning was grazed in the lower right side, and shot in the left upper chest, left back, lower right thigh, upper right thigh, and right foot; and Staff Sgt. Paul Martin was shot in the arm, leg, and back.

Also wounded in the melee was 2nd Lt. Brandy Mason who was shot in the hip; Spc. Grant Moxon, shot in the leg; civilian police Sgt. Kimberly Munley, shot twice in the leg and grazed in the hand; Spc. John Pagel, shot through his left arm; bullet traveled into left side of his chest; Spc. Dayna Ferguson Roscoe, shot in the arm, shoulder, and thigh; and CWO Christopher H. Royal, who was wounded by gunfire and in the days following the incident started a nonprofit foundation called "32 Still Standing" to raise money to support the survivors.

Lastly the wounded list includes Maj. Randy Royer, shot in the arm and leg; Spc. Jonathan Sims, shot in the chest and back; Spc. George O. Stratton, III, shot in the shoulder; Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler, shot in the left shoulder, left forearm, left hip, and left side of the head; Sgt. Miguel A. Valdivia, shot in the right thigh and left hip and Staff Sgt. Thuan Nguyen was shot in the thigh.

BELL COUNTY, Texas (KWTX)--When Fort Hood called for help on Nov. 5, 2009, every local agency responded to lend a hand, but in the long run, no hometown agency took on more responsibility than did Bell County. Bell County Chief Deputy Sheriff Chuck Cox said from the beginning he knew the county would shoulder much of the responsibility for holding Hasan and moving back-and-forth to court dates and trial.

Bell County Sheriff Eddie Lange was elected and took office about eight months before the Hasan story had a local end, Cox said, but Lange has studied the event and, though not concrete, estimates Bell County was reimbursed about $1.7 million from the federal government to cover costs associated with housing and moving Hasan.

"The monkey kind of was already on our back prior to that time," Cox said, himself and former military policeman who was assigned to Fort Hood during his tour.

Cox said many years before the shooting, the Department of the Army began closing stockade facilities on Army posts and instead began contracting with civilian authorities to house soldiers who were accused of crimes or being held pending court martial.

Hasan presented a special challenge, mainly because he was, and still is, bedridden, unable to stand or walk, injuries which resulted from his being shot by police. "The government realized early on that there would be special issues with this case, so they amended the contract between the Army and Bell County to recognize those requirements and take them into account," Cox said.

Hasan was transferred to the Bell County Jail on April 9, 2010 and "he lived in the infirmary," Cox said.

"At first he was on a 24-hour watch," Cox said, "there was a uniformed deputy sitting at a small desk, watching through the infirmary window and making notes every 15 minutes. "Later that changed to a 12-hour watch."

Cox said Hasan, like all other military prisoners, was held separate from the jail's general population.

The other responsibility Bell County shouldered was transporting Hasan to court dates as his court martial drew near.

"We had two ways to move him, on the ground or by air," Cox said. He said most of Hasan's movement to Fort Hood was by air.

"But when we had to move him by ground, we had a team leader and a whole team that took part in that, all paid on overtime," Cox said.

Hasan flew out for the last time on August 20, 2013, after spending 1,239 days in the Bell County Jail, and on that day "I actually went out to the perimeter and watched as that helicopter took off," Cox said.
"Usually it would turn northwest, headed for post, but that day I was very happy to see it turn southwest, toward Gray Army Airfield, and then on to Leavenworth." (Paul J. Gately)