Make us your home page

Some recognized Fort Hood Army psychiatrist was troubled

FORT HOOD, Texas — There was the classroom presentation that justified suicide bombings. Comments to colleagues about a climate of persecution faced by Muslims in the military. Conversations with a mosque leader that became incoherent.

Some who knew Nidal Malik Hasan said they saw clear signs the young Army psychiatrist — who authorities say went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 dead and 29 others wounded on Thursday — had no place in the military. After arriving at Fort Hood, he was conflicted about what to tell fellow Muslim soldiers about the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, alarming an Islamic community leader from whom he sought counsel.

"I told him, 'There's something wrong with you,' " Osman Danquah, co-founder of the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen, said Saturday. "I didn't get the feeling he was talking for himself, but something just didn't seem right."

Danquah assumed the military's chain of command knew about Hasan's doubts, which had been known for more than a year to classmates in a graduate military medical program. His fellow students complained to the faculty about Hasan's "anti-American propaganda," but said a fear of appearing discriminatory against a Muslim student kept officers from filing a formal written complaint.

"The system is not doing what it's supposed to do," said Dr. Val Finnell, who studied with Hasan from 2007 to 2008 in the master's program in public health at the military's Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

Military authorities continued Saturday to refer to Hasan as a suspect in the shootings, and have not said if they plan to charge him in a military or civilian court. He was taken off a ventilator but remained in intensive care at a military hospital, officials said.

In the days since authorities believe Hasan fired more than 100 rounds in a soldier processing center at Fort Hood in the worst mass shooting on a military facility in the United States, a picture has emerged of a man who was forcefully opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was trying to get out of his pending deployment to a war zone and had struggled professionally in his work as an Army psychiatrist.

Finnell said he and at least one other student complained about Hasan, surprised that someone with "this type of vile ideology" would be allowed to wear an officer's uniform. But Finnell said no one filed a formal, written complaint about Hasan's comments out of fear of appearing discriminatory.

Second police officer fired back

One of two police officers who confronted Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan says he shot Hasan before kicking his weapon away and handcuffing him. Sgt. Mark Todd joined Sgt. Kimberly Munley, hailed as a hero for her actions, in a firefight at Fort Hood with Hasan that lasted less than a minute. Todd was not wounded, but the exchange left Munley injured and Hasan critically wounded. Seconds after Todd arrived on the scene, he saw Hasan, his gun drawn and his fingers pointing at people outside the Soldier Readiness Processing Center. Todd said he then saw Hasan shooting at soldiers as they tried to flee.

"I told him, 'Stop and drop your weapons,' I identified myself as police and he turned and fired a couple of rounds at me," said Todd, a retired soldier who now works as a civilian police officer at Fort Hood.

There has been confusion since Thursday's rampage about whose bullets brought Hasan down. At first, Munley's supervisor said it was her shot to Hasan's torso that leveled him, but Army officials would only say that an investigation was under way. Todd said Munley was down by the time he engaged Hasan. Todd wasn't sure if Munley had wounded the suspect, because "once he started firing at me, I lost track of her." Todd said he fired his Beretta at Hasan. Hasan flinched, then slid down against a telephone pole and fell on his back. Todd approached the suspect and saw that he still had a weapon in his hand. Todd kicked away the gun.

Munley underwent a second surgery Saturday and is in good condition.

Diversity praised

President Barack Obama will attend a memorial service Tuesday honoring victims of the Ford Hood shootings. He praised those who ended the shootings and lauded the armed services' diversity. "They are Americans of every race, faith and station. They are Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers," Obama said in his radio and Internet address Saturday. "They are descendants of immigrants and immigrants themselves. They reflect the diversity that makes this America. But what they share is a patriotism like no other."

Bush visits

Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, have visited wounded soldiers and their families after the mass shooting at Fort Hood. The Bushes made their private visit to Fort Hood's Darnall Army Medical Center on Friday night. Bush spokesman David Sherzer said in an e-mail that the couple thanked Fort Hood's military leaders and hospital staff for the "amazing care they are providing."

Some recognized Fort Hood Army psychiatrist was troubled 11/07/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 7, 2009 10:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours