FORT HOOD, Texas Nov, 6 – A Muslim army officer about to be deployed to Iraq shot dead 12 people and wounded 31 others at a sprawling Texas military base before being gunned down himself and captured.
Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a US Army psychiatrist, opened fire with two handguns at a processing center at Fort Hood for troops being deployed on missions to Iraq and Afghanistan.
"There was a single shooter that was shot multiple times at the scene," said Lieutenant General Bob Cone, commander of the base. "He was not killed as previously reported. He is currently in custody and in stable condition."
Cone confirmed that Hasan had shot dead 12 people, raising an earlier toll of 11, before being shot himself by a "female civilian officer".
President Barack Obama, who had been kept informed of the shooting as the drama was tracked in the White House situation room, denounced the attack as a "horrific outburst of violence."
"My immediate thoughts and prayers are with the wounded. And with the families of the fallen," Obama said.
"It’s difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas. It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an army base on American soil." Related article: Obama reax
The US Senate held a moment of silence late Thursday in somber acknowledgement of the shooting rampage.
Fort Hood, a massive base that is more like a small town housing tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians, was locked down after the shooting for several hours as the shocked community searched for a possible motive.
Hasan had been harassed by his military colleagues because of his "Middle Eastern ethnicity," his cousin said, dismissing speculation that the major was "afraid of deploying to go to war."
"I don’t think he’s ever been disenchanted with the military," Nader Hasan told Fox News. "It was the harassment.
"He hired a military attorney to try to have the issue resolved, pay back the government, to get out of the military. He was at the end of trying everything," Hasan said.
Hasan’s parents are believed to be from the Middle East but he grew up in the United States, including in Virginia, where he attended Virginia Tech university.
Cone said he had been stunned by the incident, adding "soldiers and family members and many of the great civilians that work here are absolutely devastated.
"I want to express my condolences to the soldiers, the families, and the civilians in this great community in central Texas. This is a tragedy, but we will work through it."
Many of the victims were taken to the Scott and White Memorial Hospital, which put out an urgent call for blood donations as streams of wounded poured into its emergency rooms.
"Due to the recent events on Fort Hood, we are in URGENT need of ALL blood types," read a statement from the hospital.
Fort Hood has been working to rehabilitate many soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, local congressman John Carter told MSNBC.
The base in central Texas is the headquarters of the Army 3rd Corps, the 4th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division. All those units have seen extensive duty in Iraq. Facts: Fort Hood
Fatal shootings are rare at US military bases and Thursday’s was one of the worst ever.
In May 2007, five men suspected of being Islamic militants were arrested by the FBI and charged with plotting to attack Fort Dix in New Jersey. Four were sentenced in April to life imprisonment, and the fifth to 30 years.