Return to Transcripts main page


Shooting at Fort Hood

Aired April 2, 2014 - 20:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm John Berman in for an Anderson Cooper tonight. And we do begin with the breaking news out of Fort Hood, Texas.

A shooter, the second one in five years on the giant Texas army base, is dead. It is unknown how many people may have been wounded. There is much we are still learning at this moment, so much still influx right now.

We do know this. Officials tell CNN that this is their initial assessment. This was a soldier-on-soldier attack. It was not, they say, terrorism. It was not terrorism, they say.

This post you will recall the site of so much bloodshed, 13 people killed back in 2009. Once again it is an active crime scene at this moment despite the fact that they do say the shooter is dead, they say it is still an active scene.

For the second time in five years, this is the chilling way that most people learned once again that something was terribly wrong.

Being told shelter in place. That is what nearby residents heard. This is what one eyewitness saw.


TYLER, WITNESS: They are actually escorting a group of soldiers out of a building now at gunpoint. Everyone is coming out with their hands in the air, required to drop down to their knees.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And a group of soldiers like five, 10?

TYLER: No. Mass soldiers, men, women and children. There are children present with us at this time. There are civilians in civilian clothes. They are asked at this time to get down on their hands and knees, face down at gunpoint.

The 13th ESC Support Operations Building is the building that they're being escorted out of. The police are going in and SWAT is going in. They are still being held at gunpoint at this time face down.


TYLER: Police are -- yes, ma'am. On the ground. There's children present as well as civilians and a lot of soldiers at this point.


BERMAN: President Obama has just spoken about the shooting. He says he is heartbroken.

We're expecting the tape of the president's statement. We will get that to you as soon as we get it. Again, there is so much that is in flux right now. We want to get the very latest from Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, also justice correspondent Pamela Brown.

Barbara, let me start with you. Fort Hood is a huge military base right between Austin,, Texas and Waco, Texas. So many people know it because of what happened there in 2009. Now tragedy strikes again. We are told that it's still an active scene. What can you tell us about what's going on right now?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, John. At this hour the assessment is this was a soldier-involved shooting, essentially soldier-on-soldier. That's what sources are telling CNN.

But as you say, the information still so preliminary. A few moments ago, local hospitals Scott and White Memorial Hospital issued a statement saying it has received three wounded patients. So we know there are a number of wounded, the exact number not being given yet at this time. That is still to be determined.

This so-called active shooter incident erupted about two hours ago when the first reports came out. Sirens were heard all over the base. People were told that they had to stay inside, lock their doors, stay away from windows, all the security measures rapidly moving into place.

This is a base where tens of thousands of people work and live, families, children as you saw in that initial video that we heard. This is a very bustling part of the Texas community in which they all live and work. So it remains to be seen the exact details of how someone got weapons onto this base and how they proceeded to carry out this act. That will be a matter of intense investigation, especially after that 2009 incident with Major Nidal Hasan.

The commanding general of Fort Hood, Lieutenant General Mark Milley, is expected out at the main gate within another half hour to 45 minutes to come to camera and talk about what has happened there today -- John.

BERMAN: Barbara, as we said, the preliminary accounts are this was soldier-on-soldier shooting. And again the reports we're getting right now the shooter is dead.

Do we know anything about who this soldier might be?

STARR: I will tell you there is no confirmed information at this point about the person's identity. They will certainly look at all of this.

I just want to add, the soldiers at Fort Hood, many of whom we've known for years, their commanders. I have traveled in Afghanistan with General Milley, the commander. This is a base that has paid its dues in a very hard way for the last 13 years of combat. Many of the troops just came back a few weeks ago from their tour of duty in Afghanistan.

This is a base that has seen a lot of heartbreak from the incident in 2009, from those who have fallen on the battlefield, from the hundreds that have been wounded. This is an army base that has really paid its dues, which is adding to obviously some of the upset about what has happened there today.

We don't even know at this point at what portion of the base exactly was involved. This area where we saw it was reported soldiers were coming out of, I'm going to say there's a pretty good chance some of the soldiers probably themselves are combat veterans of the war who may have been impacted by this event today -- John.

BERMAN: Barbara, it's a great point. It's home to so many of our heroes and those heroes' families. And I should say those families in and of themselves remarkable as well.

Pamela Brown, our justice correspondent, we understand that local law enforcement has been called in right now to help protect the perimeter around this giant, giant base. Sheriff's department, local police as well.

How about federal law enforcement? What are you hearing from them?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, we're hearing that ATF agents as well as FBI agents are there on the scene right now helping the local law enforcement assess the situation, clear the scene. It is still very active right now. They're still going building to building. So there is a massive effort under way.

And they're also collecting intelligence. We're learning the facts as they come. We're still getting just preliminary information because it's still very early on. But at this point, at this early stage we're hearing from sources, just to reiterate, that the shooting was not a terrorism-related event and that it began as a soldier-on- soldier incident and that there is one person dead, believed to be the suspect, and there are multiple injuries.

Of course we will continue to stay on top of this story.

Also we're hearing from sources, John, that, you know, standard operating procedure here is to move forward as they clear the scene and anticipate that there could be more than one shooter until they're able to clear the entire scene and conclude there aren't any more. But what we can tell you is that there -- there is one person dead, again believed to be the suspect in this case.

BERMAN: And just to be clear, Pamela, it's standard operating procedure to call this an active scene, still an active shooting scene, even though they do believe the shooter is dead and what's taking the time now is to go building to building to just confirm there's nothing else going on. BROWN: That's correct. And there have been no shots fired since the initial incident was reported. We should reiterate that. But again, in these early stages when you're in sort of the fog of war, if you will, they have to assume every scenario. And so as they are going through clearing out the buildings, assessing the situation they have to assume every worst case scenario. But at this point again to reiterate, one person dead, believed to be the suspect.

BERMAN: All right, Pamela Brown, Barbara Starr, hang on. I'm going to ask you to work your sources. We're going to come back to you in just a minute. We are still waiting to get that statement from President Obama. He did speak just a short time ago. That is on tape. We're going to turn that tape around.

The president says he is heartbroken and that we will get to the bottom of what went on here.

Let me bring in James Spider Marks, former major general of the U.S. Army, who lived at Fort Hood four times. You were stationed there four times.

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I lived there for two years as a commander at a pretty senior level and I lived there as a child when my father was assigned there. I know that place very, very well.

BERMAN: You know, it is -- it's a wonderful army base, filled with wonderful people. So many of us have spent time there. When something like this goes on, is there training? Have they been trained now how to react?

MARKS: They have. Post the event that took place in 2009, the entire military and specifically the Army and this piece of the Army, they've been well versed and trained and rehearsed in terms of what you do in circumstances like this. And as you've very adequately described, this is a contained community, not only with soldiers but with all their family members. So what you do immediately is you lock the place down and you ask everybody -- you tell everybody to shelter in place.

And the word can get out very, very quickly. That can be done very well. So you can minimize the damage so it doesn't continue to spread.

BERMAN: And we heard those sirens going off, people being told to shelter in place, which in many cases might mean their homes.

MARKS: It does mean --

BERMAN: On the base.

MARKS: It does mean their homes. It absolutely does.

BERMAN: The other thing, Spider, that we're learning from the preliminary reports, as Pamela Brown, our justice correspondent just reported, it appears this began perhaps as a soldier-on-soldier event. Explain that to me. This couple of soldiers getting in a fight when they're heavily armed?

MARKS: Well, what happens is -- we don't know what type weapon this was, whether this was a personally owned and acquired weapon, whether it was authorized to be on post, whether it was registered, whether it should have been off post.

I cannot make any estimate as to what type weapon system was used. I will hazard a guess that it was probably not a military weapon, it was not military ammunition.

BERMAN: Because at that point certain procedures would have had to have taken place.

MARKS: Absolutely. You'd have to -- you'd have to withdraw that out of arms rooms, you have to have a whole bunch of processes are in place to control that. Unless of course they were coming back from a training exercise. But you have to keep in mind the additional soldiers that were involved in this heinous act. Were they bystanders? Were they in a formation? We simply don't know yet.

BERMAN: With us now is also former FBI assistant executive director Shawn Henry. He's currently president of Crowd Strike Services. CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes is also with us right now.

Tom, let me start with you. We've been through these shootings before. There's the Washington Naval Yard now which was just last year. Another military installation. And of course what happened in Fort Hood. What's the distinction? Where is the line between the military police, the military investigation handling the aftermath in this shooting and then outside law enforcement?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: John, a situation like this, normally the FBI would have jurisdiction for a capital crime on a U.S. military base. However, several years ago the FBI and the U.S. Army entered into a memorandum of understanding that if you had soldier-on-soldier shooting like this, U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division would eventually take the lead in the case and the FBI would provide assistance.

As I said by statute the FBI would normally have jurisdiction. But by agreement because unfortunately this has happened more often than we would like, the Army will take command of this.

BERMAN: Let me ask you, Tom, because sometimes you do work your sources for us. You have your BlackBerry with you. Have you been hearing anything right now about this investigation as it unfolds?

FUENTES: I've heard nothing new other than what Evan has been reporting and Pamela Brown.

BERMAN: OK, Shawn, let me bring you into this because frankly a lot of people surprised when they heard over the last hour, hour and a half that there was a shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, of all places. Because if there's one place you would figure at this point that would be procedures in place, there would be things to prevent this, it would be Fort Hood, no?

SHAWN HENRY, FORMER FBI EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Yes. I mean, obviously a tragedy. You've got these military individuals coming back from fighting on behalf of our country. You'd expect that they'd be safe domestically. But remember, I know Spider just mentioned it, this is one of the largest U.S. military bases in the world. So a tremendously large facility with thousands and thousands of people that are there.

Certainly security is in place on the heels of the prior incident in 2009 with Hasan. But without knowing exactly what happened, how weapons might have got on base, exactly what the motivation was for the incident, it's really difficult to speculate at this time.

BERMAN: We are expecting the president's statement momentarily.

Again, Tom Fuentes, let me put this to you. The Washington Naval Yard, the incident there, it was a contractor who was able to get those weapons on base. At this point what measures are being undertaken to protect these installations? What new measures are being taken?

FUENTES: Well, I don't know specifically how you would stop this because, you know, people coming onto that base badge their way in the employees, whether they be contractor or not. And every car, every trunk, every bag is not searched for every person going onto that base. And you have a population of about 50,000 people on that base working. So -- and it is a military base.

They have weapons. They have equipment. You're training people in how to use that equipment who are deploying to combat and who are coming back from combat. So, you know, really there's only so far the security measures can go to safeguard everybody on a military base.

BERMAN: Spider Marks is with me now. Spider, you lived on that base both as a child and also you were stationed there for some time.

Hang on one second here. Second Chuck Hagel in Hawaii for a meeting speaking on the incident.

CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I know there have been a number of reports out of the press. Fort Hood is still locked down. We are still getting facts. It's a terrible tragedy. We know that. We know there are casualties, both people killed and injured. We don't have all the facts yet. We will get those. It's still under investigation. Our military has it as well as law enforcement.

I understand the commanding general of Fort Hood, General Milley, will be holding a news conference here shortly. I know the president addressed this as well this afternoon.

I have no additional facts or figures other than what I've just told you. As we go along, as I get those -- those facts I'll share them with you. Let me now make a couple of general comments about what we are doing here and what our day has been like. BERMAN: All right. That's Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. He's in Hawaii right now meeting with military leaders from South Asia. It's a meeting that's been long planned. Incidentally, he is meeting with Malaysian minister of defense and they'll talk about the search for Flight 370. That's one of the big things he will be doing while he is in Hawaii. He just expressed his condolences to the people at Fort Hood going through this shooting right now, although he did say he really doesn't have many facts at this point.

They are still coming in. It is still an active scene, even though we have been told that the shooter is dead. There have been multiple injuries as well. We're trying to get more details about that and will bring that to you as soon as we get those details.

With me here -- OK. On the phone with me right now is Congressman John Carter. He represents the district where Fort Hood is located.

Congressman Carter, thank you for being with us. Our condolences to you and the people in that area.

REP. JOHN CARTER (R), TEXAS: Yes, this is a real tragedy. I mean, after the 2009 shooting, this incredible military family of Fort Hood is going through another real disaster.

BERMAN: It is a brave family and a proud family to be sure, Congressman. Have you been told any details about what happened on that base?

CARTER: Well, I have a staff on the ground in -- at Fort Hood. Initially they reported to me 14 wounded, one killed, shooter on the ground. It's -- it's since been reported that the shooter is dead, probably self-inflicted wound.

I have an unconfirmed report from DHS that the shooter's name is Ivan Lopez, an active military truck driver, was in full uniform at the time the shooting occurred. At the Motor Pool, which has not been reported before. I don't know whether that's confirmed or not. I heard it was at the medical facility.

BERMAN: CNN has not been able to confirm the identity of the shooter right now, Congressman, we too are looking into that at this point. Can you tell me the condition of any of those who have been shot?

CARTER: I have heard from a report from a Scott & White Hospital that four are critical, one very critical, and one killed. And the total number of wounded, it varies from various reports. So 14 is what I've heard from my guy on the ground, and he was very accurate last time during the Fort Hood shooting.

BERMAN: And we know you are working the situation there, sir, and talking to your constituents to try to find out what you can.

What can you tell me about the scene itself? We understand it's still being called an active shooting scene. That just standard operating procedure to go building to building just to make sure that everything is calm. But as far as your being told right now, is the situation subdued?

CARTER: Well, as far as we can tell. But, you know, it's going to be an active shooting because there was a second shooter reported, very similar to the report we got in the Hasan shooting initially. Nobody's going to take any chances. I'm sure that they're combing the post and making sure that they're absolutely sure there wasn't a second shooter. Then what's generally being reported now that they don't think there was. But the Army is very thorough.

BERMAN: Talk to me about the people on this base, Congressman. We have been told by Barbara Starr, military correspondent, these are brave, brave soldiers and brave families, by the way. Many of whom have been working and serving in Afghanistan, cycling in and out, many of them several, several times.

It's quite possible some of the people involved in this incident have just returned home from Afghanistan.

CARTER: It's very possible. And these soldiers on Fort Hood have been going through multiple rotations in and out of the war zone, some of them four or five rotations, which is amazing that any human being can have that kind of stamina. And yet these are patriots. Every one of them. Every single man and woman on that post are patriots and all the families and children are patriots.

You know, we are an army of families. And these families, it's really a real tragedy when you come home to the safety of home. Just like the Hasan shooting. And all of a sudden you're attacked by someone in your own uniform.

BERMAN: Congressman --

CARTER: This is horrible.

BERMAN: Congressman, thank you very much for being with us talking about the army of families at Fort Hood.

I understand in just a second we are going to get that tape of President Obama's statement. He spoke a short time ago. He's been in Chicago. He learned about this shooting a little bit earlier.

Let's bring in our White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski.

What can you tell us about how the president learned, what he has been told and what he's now saying -- Michelle.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, at the time he gave this address to the press while he's traveling in the Midwest he said he didn't know a lot of the facts, that the situation is still fluid. But he is getting briefings from the Department of Defense and the FBI. And then he spoke to the emotion of the situation, the families there on the base, the soldiers themselves, the service to their country, and that they've already sacrificed so much, many of them serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, the president said with valor. And remember, President Obama delivered the eulogy for those who were killed, 13 of them, at the Fort Hood shooting back in 2009, shot dead by Major Nidal Hasan. That speech was considered by many to be a strong one. And the president today did mention that. He said that while any shooting is troubling, he called this heartbreaking, reopening the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago.

He said that we need to get to the bottom of this. He reassured -- he said he wanted to assure everyone that we would get to the bottom of this. We need to know exactly what happened there, he said. And he said that we are going to do everything we can to make sure that this community has everything it needs to deal with a tough situation and its aftermath.

We do expect to hear that tape soon. But that was the statement he gave a few minutes he was able to break away from the appointments he has in the Midwest and speak to the press.

BERMAN: You know, I imagine his reaction was like those of so many other people, Michelle, when they heard there was a shooting at Fort Hood in Texas. So many of us, including me, simply said, not again. You know, not there. As you said, the first shooting there in 2009 happened early in President Obama's administration.

Major Nidal Hasan was convicted a year ago, sentenced to death, although that sentence will not be carried out for some time. But again, it's something that this country has seen go on in that location and really gone through with the people of Fort Hood.

All right. Michelle Kosinski --

KOSINSKI: Right. And I think --

BERMAN: -- our thanks to you. Hang on one second. I want to bring in Spider Marks again right here.

And, Spider, again we learned about this shooting, you know, an hour and a half ago, two hours ago. The evening at Fort Hood, Texas. 40,000 people live there.

MARKS: Right.

BERMAN: This is a time when, people will be going home to dinner at this point to be with their families.

MARKS: Finishing the training day and heading home to link back up with their families. Absolutely correct.

Let me tell you, the strength of our military is not just in the soldiers. They are incredibly resilient. It's in those amazing families. They are the ones that have endured the very toughest fight while the soldier has been deployed. It's amazing the incredible amount of tasks that those families have to attend to. Those families are amazingly resilient as well but they're going to need a hug. This is --

BERMAN: But --

MARKS: This is incredible.

BERMAN: You know, Spider, you know, these families in a way are trained -- hang on one second, Spider. Hang on one second. We're just a few seconds away from President Obama. This was his statement to the press just a short time ago in Chicago about the shooting that just happened in Fort Hood, Texas, a few hours ago.

Again what we know right now, one person dead, many more injured. Let's listen to what the president had to say.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello, everybody. I just got off the phone with Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Sandy Winnefeld to get the latest report on the situation in Fort Hood. Obviously we're following it closely. The situation is fluid right now. But my national security team is in close contact with not just the Defense Department but the FBI. They are working with folks on the ground to determine exactly what happened to make sure that everybody is secure.

And I want to just assure all of us that we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened. You know, any shooting is troubling. Obviously this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago. We know these families. We know their incredible service to our country and the sacrifices that they make.

Obviously our thoughts and prayers -- are with the entire community. And we are going to do everything we can to make sure that the community at Fort Hood has what it needs to deal with the current situation but also any potential aftermath.

We're heartbroken that something like this might have happened again. And I don't want to comment on the facts until I know exactly what has happened. But for now I would just hope that everybody across the country is keeping the families and the community at Fort Hood in our thoughts and in our prayers.

The folks there have sacrificed so much on behalf of our freedom. Many of the people there have been through multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. They serve with valor and they serve with distinction. And when they're at their home base, they need to feel safe. We don't yet know what happened tonight, but obviously that sense of safety has been broken once again. And we're going to have to find out exactly what happened. The Pentagon --


BERMAN: President Obama speaking again in Chicago speaking about what happened in Fort Hood, Texas. Again we've learned that at least one person is dead. That is the shooter. And many more injured right there. We're still trying to get the details of what happened. But President Obama says it reopens the pain of what happened in Fort Hood in 2009 when 13 people were killed there. He says his thoughts and prayers are with the people in Fort Hood.

I want to bring back Michelle Kosinski, our White House correspondent.

Michelle, give us some more details of again how the president learned and the response.

KOSINSKI: Yes, he's been traveling. So we knew early on that the White House was aware of the situation and the president was being briefed throughout the evening. He's staying in Chicago. He'll fly back later on tonight. But he also spoke really of the gravity of the situation, the shock that America feels that this happens on a military base, and again in five years.

I think many of us remember seeing those pictures of the president and Mrs. Obama at the memorial service for those 13 shot in 2009. He delivered the eulogy for that. Some describe that as one of his strongest speeches. So he too obviously was affected calling this heartbreaking. To hear that this happens again, I think, you know, both he and the average American when you hear that it has happened again under possibly similar circumstances, at least on a very basic level, kind of stops you in your tracks.

It reminds me a lot of the Virginia Tech shooting. I mean, when there is something of that magnitude, these places, Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, they almost become synonymous with the shooting that has happened there. And then whenever you hear of another incident or another threat it just brings it back. As the president said, reopening the pain of what happened in that same place five years ago.

BERMAN: Reopening the pain. Michelle Kosinski at the White House.

We're going to work the phones, get some more details about what's going on at Fort Hood at this minute. We'll be back right after this.


BERMAN: We are following the breaking news out of Fort Hood in Texas. A very fluid situation right now.

This is what we know. Fort Hood remains an active crime scene after what officials believe was a soldier on soldier attack. That's their initial assessment. One person believed to be the shooter is dead. There are people wounded. We just don't know how many or how seriously at this point.

We've heard a few different things. As we said, situation very much in flux. Fort Hood as you know was the site of a mass shooting in 2009. Thirteen people were killed then. It is a giant, giant army base between Austin and Waco, Texas. Our Tom Foreman joins us now to show us exactly where this is all unfolding -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. You're correct. It is one of the most huge, huge facilities. Let's zoom in here and show you where Fort Hood is located here out in this neighborhood of Killeen, Texas. The base lays right through here. This is the base. You're talking about the main gate of the base you're talking about right down here. This is where most people would come in.

If you came in through this area, you would see checkpoints in here, move further up yet another checkpoint if you're coming from outside. Then when you go further up here this takes you to the headquarters of the entire base right up here. The hospital is down here, not far away as all. We've made reference to the Nidal Hasan shooting. If you think about that, wide enough to get the lay of the base again. That area is actually down over toward the far end down here, the western end.

That's where all of that occurred. And there are some schools over here, a college out here. One thing we should mention here, John, we talked about the Nidal Hasan shooting, the incident today. But 23 years ago, if I remember, the neighboring community here, Killeen, had the largest massacre in this country's history at the time, the Luby's Cafeteria massacre.

That absolutely affected the military community in a very, very big way. So this entire community when you think about the military and civilian community working together has faced many extraordinary things in recent memory. Many people there remember the Luby's Cafeteria massacre as well. They have been through tremendous amount -- John.

BERMAN: They have. Tom Foreman, that community has been through a lot. But I do think it's important to note it's a community that most people should know for the bravery and heroism for the people who serve at that army base. There are people, soldiers rotating in constantly including many who have come back from Afghanistan very, very recently and thousands of members of their families who are also really providing such a service to this country as well.

Now we do have an eyewitness account, our first eyewitness account of what went on. We played a portion at the top of the program. I want to play some more for you right now. Let's listen.


TYLER (via telephone): There are 18 ambulances, parked off the street from me. There are people being shuffled to the ambulances and taken to another location. There is a police helicopter flying over top above me. There are approximately 90 police vehicles, including DPS, Fort Hood, sheriff, Bell County constable, as well as multiple unmarked units. They do have the scene as secure as possible as well as the streets connecting to it. They're not letting anyone in this area. I'm stuck.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So it remains a very active scene, sirens, cars?

TYLER: They're not using sirens. Using more along the line of a silent approach. They're not taking any chances with this. There were two SWAT vehicles that went by followed by two of the newer Bell County constable units, police state troopers and one unmarked unit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it lead you to believe that this person is inside that building? TYLER: I can't tell you that. The area that I'm in right now there are a bunch of buildings. There are people running around from building to building. At this time it would be safe for me to assume he hasn't been located at this point due to the fact that there is so much congestion in such a wide area.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tyler, can you tell me this? We heard that this happened at about 4:30. Does that sound about right to you?

TYLER: Yes, ma'am. It was right there about that time I went on base and about the time that happened they instantly hit the emergency broadcast system for Fort Hood telling everybody to seek shelter, close your windows and doors, turn off your air ventilation systems and to seek shelter immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow, OK. So it was a pretty chaotic situation when it happened? Were there people -- describe sort of the scene and the events that unfolded once you heard that.

TYLER: As soon as that happened, it literally looked like if you were going into a room and turned on a light and there was a bunch of bugs and they just scattered. Everyone instantly went to their rooms, locked their doors. You could just feel the intensity and sense of fear in the area.


BERMAN: You could feel the sense of fear in the area. You can tell by the tone of his voice this is a chaotic situation. Joining me again here in New York, Retired General James "Spider" Marks with me here. Lived on that base in Fort Hood more than once, as a child and again when you were stationed there. We are saying we believe it was a soldier on soldier incident. But we've also said there are thousands and thousands of people who live on this base. The family members.

Is there any way of knowing just by the way these days go on if it started as a soldier on soldier does it mean only soldiers would have been around at the time or is it possible there could have been civilians nearby as well?

MAJOR GENERAL JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: John, we simply don't know. But to your point, the worst possible outcome is there could be civilians, contractors and family members that might have been wounded as a result of this. We simply don't know where it took place yet, and we don't know the circumstances. At 1630, 4:30 in the afternoon when the incident occurred, it is a bevy of activity. People are going home, people are doing their final -- they're closing up for the day. They're about to rejoin their buddies, about to go to chow, et cetera, et cetera. So there's movement all over the place.

BERMAN: I guess that's my point. It could be in a situation where there are different types of people with all different types of professions, both civilian and military.

MARKS: Coming and going at that time of day, absolutely. This is the traffic. This is the heavily trafficked time of day.

BERMAN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon right now. Barbara, I understand you've got some new information about the shooting?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. Let's update everybody. Senior officials in the administration are now confirming multiple fatalities, multiple people have been killed in this incident. Also multiple personnel, multiple people have been wounded. We know one hospital locally has already said it's received three wounded. There have been multiple wounded people and multiple fatalities.

The army and the military across the board very quickly reacting to this. We just got a statement from General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, on behalf of the entire Joint Chiefs, saying in part to the Fort Hood community saying quote, "This is a community that has faced and overcome crises with resilience and strength."

Of course, referring to the 2009 incident at Fort Hood when so many people, dozens were killed and injured by an army soldier. This by all accounts tonight, John, appears to be another incident, we are told, of soldier on soldier violence.

Secretary Hagel traveling in Hawaii has been informed about this as you have reported, President Obama. So from the highest levels of the administration down to the most junior enlisted ranks in the U.S. military, reaction tonight to this very tragic incident -- John.

BERMAN: Barbara, I think that was the news that no one wanted to hear tonight, multiple fatalities, multiple injuries in Fort Hood. Barbara, we've been calling it an active scene despite the fact that we're also reporting they do believe the shooter is dead. Any more details about what's going on, on that base right now?

STARR: Well, that is right. The shooter by all accounts is dead and we do not know how that happened. One of the reasons they continue to call it an active scene, it's very traditional law enforcement practice whether it's in a city or town, civilian law enforcement or military police. They are securing the scene. They are going through it. They are conducting security sweeps. They are making sure nothing else is going on.

Always a concern in these instances that some individuals, some suspect, may have done something else on the base. So they're going through everything, making sure that everything is secure. And of course, we have seen quite a response from civilian law enforcement in Killeen, Texas, Bell County Constables, the Texas law enforcement community just outside the main gate along with the FBI responding very quickly, lending its law enforcement muscle to the base. So this is a very multi-pronged effort and it remains very much, John, an active crime scene tonight.

BERMAN: Multi-pronged effort from everyone in that community. Again and that community extends past the base as you say to the area of Killeen. Our thanks to Barbara Starr at the Pentagon delivering us the news she just received.

We're now being told by senior military officials, multiple fatalities in this shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. Multiple injuries as well. We are awaiting more information. There is a news conference that we're setting up for right now. It's being set up at Fort Hood. We'll bring that to you right after this.


BERMAN: All right, welcome back. The breaking news, really the news that no one wanted to hear tonight, multiple fatalities including the shooter, multiple injuries at Fort Hood in Texas. Now we are waiting to go hear directly from the commander on post. They're setting up for a news conference right now. We'll bring that to you the minute it begins. We did hear a short time ago from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Let's listen.


CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I just got off the phone with our senior leaders at the Pentagon to get an update. I know there have been a number of reports out in the press. Fort Hood is still locked down. We are still getting facts. It's a terrible tragedy. We know that. We know there are casualties, both people killed and injured. We don't have all the facts yet. We will get those. It's still under investigation.

Our military has it as well as law enforcement. I understand the commanding general of Fort Hood, General Milly, will be holding a news conference here shortly. I know the president addressed this as well this afternoon. I have no additional facts or figures or than what I've just told you. As we go along as I get those -- those facts I'll share them with you.


BERMAN: That's Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel explaining that this is still a situation very much in flux. What we do know now from a senior military official, multiple fatalities including the shooter, multiple injuries in Fort Hood, Texas. We believe -- we've been told at least they think this began as a soldier on soldier incident, although that really leaves a broad range of possibilities for what may have happened there.

I'm joined here in New York by James "Spider" Marks, retired general. And Spider, we were talking about this. Right now on military bases, soldiers and families are trained for so many things. They're trained for separation. There's the psychological, the family counselling for how to deal with so many situations that are complicated in the military. But not this, I wouldn't think. This feels outside the realm of something that they should be prepared for.

MARKS: John, it's very sad to say that something like this can occur. It's an incredible tragedy. But what military families are trained to do, and what they have demonstrated so exceptionally well especially in the last 13 years that we've been at war, is they bond and they build a community and they coalesce very, very quickly and in a really sustained way.

This is a horrible incident, but this is an incident that will galvanize this community to hold together and not let it spin out of control. It could have been something else. It happened to be this. It's egregious. It's almost unbelievable. They will bond together and they'll have to hold together and they will.

BERMAN: Galvanized community. It's already pretty galvanized to deal with.

MARKS: An excellent community.

BERMAN: Spider, again also when you hear it's happened at Fort Hood, Texas, the first reaction many people have is again. And then I think the second reaction is how? How has this happened again at Fort Hood, Texas? Aren't there measure that have been put in place to prevent this?

MARKS: There are. We simply don't know. We won't speculate. We'll get to the bottom of the investigation as quickly as possible. The energy that we need to expend right now is to figure that out and embrace the families to make sure they can move forward. It would be a shame if the families came together and said look I signed up to be your spouse, your loving partner. I want to be part of this thing called the army. I don't want this to occur in my backyard.

BERMAN: There are a number of medical facilities in the area now dealing with the injured. Let's listen to a news conference right now from Temple, Texas right near Fort Hood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The two that are coming are preparing to go directly to the operating room in anticipation of some very needed surgery. We have all of our support staff have been activated. We have ample resources to take care of any more patients that need to be transferred over. But at this time we don't anticipate additional patients being transferred over from Fort Hood at this time. So we are prepared to answer any questions. We can give you any additional information.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those that are here now (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their conditions range from stable to quite critical.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know if they were soldiers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have that information, Ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many men and how many women, do you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't even give you those specifics. I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) there were a total of maybe 14. Where are they?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have none of that information, Ma'am. We accepted these patients transferred after they had been evaluated and taken care of over in Killeen at the Fort. So we really didn't render any immediate care at the scene or anything like that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were any of you here in 2009?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say so. There's a lot of unknowns early on and it creates some logistical problems in how you plan for this kind of event. We routinely practice for mass casualty events. We have a command center that we run practice drills. So I'm pleased to report that we were well prepared for that. It always takes a little while to figure out exactly how many people are coming and where they're coming from. But we are aptly staffed. We had our surgeons and operating rooms opened up well before these patients arrived.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long do you run those drills and when was the last time you executed one?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We run those every few months. It's been three or four months since we had our last one. But that's a routine kind of thing we prepare for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Multiple gunshot wounds?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I honestly can't tell you the exact extent of those. I did not take care of any of those myself. Dr. Constantino may be able to give you more specifics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were both. There was both individual gunshot as well as a couple with multiple.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I apologize. I just walked in. Can you recap again some of the numbers, please?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. So we were first notified shortly after 5:00 this evening that there was a shooting incident that occurred over on the fort. And we opened up our command center at that time in anticipation. Over the next couple of hours we have received now a total of four patients who have been transferred to our facility, two more are en route, I understand right now. And we're preparing to take those immediately to the operating room because they have some very, very severe injuries. So that's kind of where we are with this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) conditions at this point?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The conditions range everywhere from quite stable to critically injured.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The two that are coming now, were they at another facility before they were brought over here or being brought over here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe they're being transferred directly from the Darnall Emergency facilities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you go over again what the injuries were?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically, it's a variety, injures to the chest, abdomen, extremities, and then an injury to the neck on the various patients that we've seen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you said these are soldiers or you don't know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have any specifics at this time.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're a level one trauma center. We actually have the resources and capacity to take care of these critically injured patients.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were the most critically injured patients brought here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as we know, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I would anticipate with a large number of patients arriving very short period of time the emergency facilities there were anxious to have some help quickly and we were available. And they know that we're always open to help them out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) addressing someone was here when this happened previously?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just what goes through your head when you know it happened again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My response was this is another sad day for Central Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of these patients, they're probably brought from Fort Hood straight to here. Have you guys been able to get in touch with their families on base? Have you had success with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have not reached out to any families yet. I know we have our media folks have made arrangements for them to get a contact number for them. People are fielding some of those calls. I'm not really aware if any of their family members have arrived here yet, though.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) still on base?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That their families are still on base? I would assume so. I really don't know the specific names and the family relations that are over there. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) from the previous Fort Hood shooting, (inaudible) injured from that incident?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mean did Scott and White treat? Yes, we had quite a few patients.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we had 11. I'm not sure. We had quite a few.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At least 11 in 2009?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I can't remember the exact number, but it was quite a few. I remember that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) from stable to quite critical, do you know how many are quite critical?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really can't tell you that specific number.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of the patients here are undergoing continual evaluation, so that will change over the course of time I'm sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we will give an update probably in another couple of hours so we can give you a little bit more information about the more specific injuries.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say why you don't expect any additional patients?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the information that we're receiving right now is that they're not anticipating that they're going to transfer any more over. Although I suspect that could change as well, just depending on the condition of the patients they're treating over there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, ma'am? Any other questions for us at this time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you spell your name and titles, please?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My last name is Couchman, c-o-u-c-h-m-a-n. I'm the chief medical officer for Scott and White Memorial Hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harry p-a-p-a-c-o-s-t-a-n-t-i-n-o-u. I'm the chairman of the Department of Surgery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will there be any more updates?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll be probably back around 9:30 or so.

BERMAN: All right, you're listening to Dr. Glenn Couchman of the Scott and White Hospital with updates on some of the patients that have been taken there. Let me just recap what he said there. They have four patients on hand, four patients on hand, two on the way ranging from stable to very, very critical. The wounds including multiple gunshot wounds to some of them, the chest, abdomen, extremities and neck.

Again there are two patients on the way who will need be to rushed to surgery right away. Their condition very grave as you can see on the bottom part of the screen right there here we're also awaiting a news conference from the base itself at Fort Hood. We'll bring that to you right after this break.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. We are following the breaking news. A shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. Multiple fatalities, multiple injuries we are told. One of the fatalities is the shooter, we are told. We do not know how many fatalities or injured, but we did hear a press conference a while ago from one of the local hospitals where they have received six patients so far ranging in conditions from stable to very severe.

Multiple gunshot wounds suffered by some, multiple surgeries needed by others. You can see on the screen right there we are awaiting a press conference on the scene from the commanding general of Fort Hood, Texas to get more information. It is a situation very much in flux with many developments happening throughout the evening. Wolf Blitzer picks up or our breaking news conference right now -- Wolf.