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Neighbor: Fort Hood suspect emptied his apartment

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) - An Army psychiatrist suspected of
opening fire on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood cleaned out his
apartment in the days before the rampage that left 13 people dead,
a neighbor said Friday.
The neighbor, Patricia Villa, said Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan came
over to her apartment Wednesday and Thursday and offered her some
items, including a new Quran, saying he was going to be deployed on
Friday. She wasn't sure if he was going to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Authorities said the 39-year-old Hasan went on a shooting spree
later Thursday at the sprawling Texas post. He was among 30 people
wounded in the rampage and remained hospitalized Friday in a coma,
attached to a ventilator. All but two of the injured were still
hospitalized, and all were listed in stable condition.
Investigators were trying to piece together how and why Hasan
allegedly gunned down his comrades in one of the worst mass
shootings ever on an American military base. His motive wasn't
known, but some who knew Hasan said he may have been struggling
with a pending deployment and faced pressure in his work with
distressed soldiers.
Hasan's family said in a statement Friday that his alleged
actions were "despicable and deplorable" and don't reflect how
the family was raised.
President Barack Obama ordered the flags at the White House and
other federal buildings be at half-staff and urged people not drawn
conclusions while authorities investigate.
"We don't know all the answers yet. And I would caution against
jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts," Obama said in
a statement.
The shooting spree began as some 300 soldiers had been lined up
to get vaccinations and have their eyes tested at a Soldier
Readiness Center, where soldiers who are about to be deployed or
who are returning undergo medical screening. Nearby, others were
lining up in commencement robes for a ceremony to celebrate troops
and families who had recently earned degrees.
Soldiers reported that the gunman shouted "Allahu Akbar!" - an
Arabic phrase for "God is great!" - before opening fire, said Lt.
Gen. Robert Cone, the base commander. He said officials had not yet
confirmed that Hasan made the comment.
When the gunfire subsided, soldiers described a scene that
looked like a war zone: too many wounded to count, shells and blood
on the floor, and comrades ripping off their clothes to make
tourniquets to keep the injured alive. One woman, suffering from a
wound to the hip, carried another victim to get help.
"You had people without tops on. You had people ripping their
pant legs off," said Sgt. Andrew Hagerman, a military police
officer from Lewisville, Texas.
Hagerman arrived at the scene minutes after the shooting
stopped. When he entered the building, he kept his head down to
avoid stepping in the pools of blood or kicking any spent shell
casings.
"You could go around it," he said. "There was definitely a
path."
The gunman was struck four times by a civilian police officer
who also was wounded herself. Authorities said Kimberly Munley
fired on the suspect just three minutes after the gunfire began,
and base officials said her efforts ended the crisis. Munley was
recovering Friday at a hospital and was in stable condition.
"It was an amazing and aggressive performance by this police
officer," Cone said.
Hagerman said he saw Hasan laying on the ground receiving
medical assistance for a gunshot wound as responders tried to get
his handcuffs off to better treat him.
Hasan reported for duty at Fort Hood in July, after working at
Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington for six years. Though
Hasan apparently had problems at Walter Reed, officials at the Fort
Hood hospital said they weren't aware of any issues with his job
performance.
One of Hasan's bosses praised his work ethic and said he
provided excellent care for his patients.
"Up to this point I would consider him an asset," said Col.
Kimberly Kesling, deputy commander of clinical services at Darnall
Army Medical Center.
An imam from a mosque Hasan regularly attended said Hasan, a
lifelong Muslim, was a committed soldier, gave no sign of extremist
beliefs and regularly wore his uniform at prayers.
Villa, who recently moved next door to Hasan, said she had never
spoken to him before he came over to her apartment.
She said Hasan gave her frozen broccoli, spinach, T-shirts and
shelves on Wednesday, then returned Thursday morning and gave her
his air mattress, several briefcases and a desk lamp. He then
offered her $60 to clean his apartment Friday morning, after he was
supposed to leave.
Someone who used to work with Hasan said he had expressed some
anger about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Retired Col. Terry Lee told Fox News said Hasan had hoped
President Barack Obama would pull troops out of Afghanistan and
Iraq and got into frequent arguments with others in the military
who supported the wars.
But another neighbor said Hasan appeared to be OK with his
pending deployment, which he said was supposed to be to
Afghanistan.
"I asked him how he felt about going over there, with their
religion and everything, and he said, `It's going to be
interesting,"' said Edgar Booker, a 58-year-old retired soldier
who now works in a cafeteria on the post.
Col. Steve Braverman, the Fort Hood hospital commander, said
early Friday that Hasan was on deployment orders to Afghanistan. A
military official later told The Associated Press that Hasan was to
be deployed to Iraq. It was not immediately possible to verify the
discrepancy.
The military official, who did not have authorization to discuss
the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity,
said Hasan had indicated he didn't want to go to Iraq but was
willing to serve in Afghanistan.
Cone said authorities have not yet been able to talk to Hasan,
but interviews with witnesses went through the night.
Officials are not ruling out the possibility that some of the
casualties may have been victims of "friendly fire," that in the
confusion at the shooting scene some of the responding military
officials may have shot some of the victims.
Cone acknowledged that it was "counterintuitive" that a single
shooter could hit so many people, but he said the massacre occurred
in "close quarters.
"With ricochet fire, he was able to injure that number of
people," Cone said. He said authorities were investigating whether
Hasan's weapons were properly registered with the military.
The wounded were dispersed among hospitals in central Texas,
Cone said. Their identities and the identities of the dead were not
immediately released.
Friday was designated a day of mourning at Fort Hood. There also
will be a ceremony at the air base to honor the dead.
Hasan, who was born in Northern Virginia, pursued a career in
psychiatry at Walter Reed, working as an intern, a resident and,
last year, a fellow in disaster and preventive psychiatry. The Army
major received his medical degree from the military's Uniformed
Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., in
2001.
But his record at Walter Reed wasn't sterling. He received a
poor performance evaluation, according to an official who spoke on
condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the
case publicly. And while he was an intern, Hasan had some
"difficulties" that required counseling and extra supervision,
said Dr. Thomas Grieger, who was the training director at the time.
Faizul Khan, a former imam at a mosque Hasan attended in Silver
Spring, Md., said "I got the impression that he was a committed
soldier." He said Hasan attended prayers regularly at the mosque
in Silver Spring, Md., and was a lifelong Muslim. He spoke often
with Hasan about Hasan's desire for a wife.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Hasan's aunt, Noel
Hasan of Falls Church, Va., said he had been harassed about being a
Muslim in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, and
he wanted out of the Army.
"Some people can take it and some people cannot," she said.
"He had listened to all of that and he wanted out of the
military."
At least six months ago, Hasan came to the attention of law
enforcement officials because of Internet postings about suicide
bombings and other threats, including posts that equated suicide
bombers to soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade to save the
lives of their comrades.
Investigators had not determined for certain whether Hasan was
the author of the posting, and a formal investigation had not been
opened before the shooting, said law enforcement officials who
spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to
discuss the case.
Federal authorities seized Hasan's computer Friday during a
search of his apartment, said a military official who spoke on
condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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