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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Fort Hood Shooting
Aired April 2, 2014 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: John, thanks very much. The news, another horrible shooting in America's largest army base Fort Hood, Texas, a soldier on soldier shooting as it has been described. The post once again, a major crime scene, the scene of multiple fatalities including the gunman and many people wounded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were first notified shortly after 5:00 this evening that there was a shooting incident that occurred over on the Fort. And we offered up our command center at that time in anticipation. And 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 in route. I understand right now, and we were 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: I mean the (inaudible) conditions at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The conditions range either from quite stable to quite -- to critically injured.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Critically injured, he said, multiple fatalities at the same time and other casualties. We're expecting to hear shortly from the base commander, we'll have live coverage. President Obama spoke about the incident tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Hello everybody. I just get off the phone with Vice Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Sandy Winnefeld to get the latest report on, you know, 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 secured. And I want to just assure all of us that we are going to get to bottom of exactly what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: This is the second such incident in Fort Hood since 2009 and for the second time within five years, this is the chilling way, so many people have partially (ph) learned that something once again was terribly wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ...window, shut out the door, they don't need to have (inaudible). Keep shelter immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That's what residents heard on the base. This is what one eyewitness saw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TYLER: They are actually escorting a group of soldier out of the building now at gun point, everyone is coming out with their hands in the air, required to dropdown to their knees.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And a groups of soldiers like five, 10 ...
TYLER: No. Mass soldiers, men, women and children. There are children present with this 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 gun point. And the 13th ESC Support Operations building, is a building that they're being escorted out there. The police are going in and SWAT is going in, they are still being held at gun point this time, face down ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the ground?
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.
BLITZER: Once again, there's certainly a lot influx right now, this is a fast moving development. Let's get the very latest from our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr and our Justice Correspondent, Pamela Brown, Michelle Kaczynski. Our White House correspondent is also standing by first to the Pentagon.
What do we know? What's the latest information Barbara, we're getting from the military over at the Pentagon and else where you are?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, what we know tonight is, yes indeed, multiple fatalities, multiple injured personnel. We'd have no identities on these people. I want to point out Fort Hood is a base where are many civilians, there are families, there are children who come and go with their families on Fort Hood. So we do not know at this hour, whether all of the wounded including those who've been received for treatment at local hospitals are in fact military personnel, some of them may in fact be civilians. We are awaiting a press conference from Lieutenant General Mark Milley, commander of third corp., the head -- the most senior official on Fort Hood. Tonight, he is expected to come out shortly and talk about all of this. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been informed, the Joint Chiefs had been informed. And now there's issue, the statement of sympathy about all of these. What we know is security measures went into affect rapidly by all accounts. People were told they were in lock down to stay in their homes and offices. Shut their doors. Stay away from windows.
And security personnel moved in to start a sweep and go through these areas and try and determine what exactly had transpired. The shooter is dead, but at this hour we do not know if it is by the shooters own hand or he was killed. Wolf.
BLITZER: Do we know anything specific about the shooter Barbara?
STARR: Wolf, by all accounts this was a soldier. This is believed who have started as a soldier on soldier incident. And at Forth Hood, that brings up an awful lot of difficult memories of 2009 as you said. When army major Nidal Hasan in army, serving officer went into a facility at Fort Hood and begin shooting, killing 13 people, attempting to murder some three dozen more. He was convicted of all those murder, an attempted murder charges. But Fort Hood is a base where there has been an awful lot of tragedy about all of these.
And this is a base where the soldiers and their families have paid the price over the combat over the last 13 years. Many troops just coming home a few weeks ago from their latest tour in Afghanistan. Wolf.
BLITZER: And that's why -- what's happening now is so painful. Major Nidal Hasan as you point out, he was convicted last year, August 23rd, 2013, 13 counts of murder, 32 counts of attempted murder. He admitted targeting fellow U.S. soldiers who were set to deploy to Afghanistan. He said he wanted to protect the Taliban from the U.S. military, the Taliban and its leadership. Barbara standby.
Pamela Brown is out justice correspondent. What are you hearing from your law enforcement sources Pamela?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you. Well, according to my sources that at this hour, there are still a multi- pronged effort underway by federal law enforcement agency, such as ATF and FBI, as well with local law enforcement and state law enforcement as well to clear the scene. That has now happen yet, they are still going building to building Wolf, clearing the scene and that is why of course it is still on lockdown, why people are being told to stay in their buildings and stay away from the windows.
And until they clear the scene, we're not going to be able to confirm certain information, such as whether there could have been more than one suspect. But what we have learned Wolf, and as Barbara Starr reported, we've learned from sources that there are multiple deaths, one of which we believed to be the suspect in this case. And also Wolf, we're hearing from sources that it's believed that this started as a soldier on soldier incident.
We don't have any information from there, because this is all still very early on, as we said they're still clearing the scene, everything is preliminary.
BLITZER: And we're waiting in this news conference, you see, they're setting up Lieutenant General Mark Milley, the commanding general at Fort Hood. We're going to go their live. Once he starts briefing all of us, you're looking a live picture coming out of Fort Hood right now. It's still a very active investigation, clearly Pamela. Even though at soldier on soldier as it's been described, they're not necessarily ruling out terrorism are they?
BROWN: No, they're not at this point. I mean it's still very early on Wolf, but at this point we're hearing from sources that it doest -- they don't believe the terrorism was a factor here, but again they are still trying to sort of investigate to identify who this person was. I was talking to sources Wolf. Often times in a situation like this when you have a shooting, the person is mentally unstable. There are pre-event indicators, so they're going to be scouring this person's social media commentary, that kind of thing, to see if there were any sign.
So again it's still very early, too early to jump to conclusion, it's all under investigation. But at this early preliminary stage sources is telling us that it doesn't appear to be terrorism but of course that's not being ruled out as a possibility.
BLITZER: Yes, investigation only just beginning and they certainly will check all those social media sites if they -- as they did with major Nidal Hasan. He was certainly, certainly had a political motivation for the political motivation for the murders that he committed on that base.
Michelle Kaczynski is out White House correspondent. Michelle, the President clearly is deeply, deeply concerned he was obviously very moved in that statement he made. He's been traveling today, but he wants to be fully briefed on what's going on. This is really an awful, awful situation.
MICHELLE KACZYNSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDER: Yes, at the time he said he didn't know many of the facts. He was getting briefings from the Department of Defense and the FBI while he was traveling. But he described the shooting today as heart breaking, saying that any shooting is troubling. But these reopen the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago.
He said that we need to get to the bottom of it, that we need to do everything we can to make sure that this community of soldiers and their families has everything they need to deal with what happened as well as the aftermath. And he talked about those soldiers. Say that, you know, some of them served with valor multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that at how on their home base they need to feel safe.
This is a community the President knows well, that he saw up close after the tragedy five years ago. And remember, president Obama delivered a eulogy for those 13 soldiers who were killed by major Nidal Hasan. And at that time, he said, you know, "These Americans were killed on a foreign field of battle. They were killed on American soil. And that fact makes the tragedy even more painful, even more incomprehensible." He said that they couldn't escape the horrors of war even in the comfort of home.
And he also talked about the community then, he said that, "In the phase of danger, wild bullets were flying during that tragedy five years ago. And these soldiers who were trained in war, they were risking their own lives, many of them to get to their wounded fellow soldiers and bring them to safety." And he described one young woman who was so intense on saving lives, the president said, that she didn't even realize for the time that she herself had been shot in back.
So this is the community and the pain that the president referred in his remarks today, obviously sharing the shock that many Americans feel to hear that something like this has happened in the same place, Wolf.
BLITZER: And they're getting ready for this news conference Michelle, at Fort Hood. The commanding General Mark Milley, lieutenant general of United States Army will be briefing us momentarily once he gets to that microphone. We'll of course have live coverage, standby for that.
And joining us on the phone right now is retired Staff Sergeant Alonzo Lunsford, he was shot during the 2009 Fort Hood (inaudible), shot by Major Nidal Hasan. Alonzo, thanks very much for joining us. This brings back awful memories I'm sure, just tell us what's going through your mind as you watch the story unfold.
STAFF SGT. ALONZO LUNSFORD: Right now, I appreciate you all have me on. I'm filled with a lot of emotions. And I first would like to give my biggest sympathies for the families on fallen and also the families of the wounded.
And right now is a perfect time for as a nation, we need to embrace each other to make sure that within all of our powers that we make sure this does not happen again. After the shooting in Fort Hood in 2009, I have said that that was the first but it would not be the last, unless we end up change of policies. They're recognizing the threats that we have within our nation or U.S. soil within our military.
Now, it's not political correct situation and it is what is being that it is service path (ph). And it saddens me that because individuals who's trying and save their careers and not hopefully admitting that doubtful who is shooting was a terrorist acts in his workplace (ph) violence. And that gave more emanation for people to file a suit because they felt like they have the power. Now, it's the time instead of us pointing fingers, the first act we need to do is to embrace the families of the (inaudible). Second thing we need ...
BLITZER: That remind us ...
BLITZER: ... remind us Alonzo, what happened on that day back on November 5th 2009, you're at Fort Hood and Major Nidal Hasan open fire and you and a lot of your fellow soldiers?
LUNSFORD: Yes sir. Major Hasan, we have actually worked together 18th of October, so we knew each other. And at the lunch on Thursday, November 5th 2009 is when Major Hasan started to open fire on his fellow comrades that were getting to deploy. I was working at SRP, but so (inaudible) raising these process and sooner that day. And I just relieved one of my soldiers to go and eat lunch, therefore, I was at the front. And the end result of about shooting was 14 dead, 32 wounded.
And not counting the wounded of our families and the psychological effect of the trauma. And what saddens me even more is that some of us was hit inside of the building, and when we try to get out or we'll loss front the help out of the comrades, Major Hasan still continue, tried to kill us.
For me, I got hit twice inside the building, then when exited outside the building he hit me again, he went back inside the building and then while there were three of us and me on the ground, he shot me again. And it really bothers me because everyone is in uniform. We have the uniform worn that because we have to, because we want to. We are a quality of fighting force.
And you're right. We would want to feel safe at home out of a hostile environment out fear, and now being brought the fight back to us on U.S. soil. So we need to do something about this issue together as nation.
BLITZER: We certainly do. Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, I going to have you stand by. Once again, we were expecting to hear momentarily from the Base Commander Lieutenant General Mark Milley. We'll have the news conference. They'll give us all the latest information that is expected momentarily. We'll take a quick break. Resume our special coverage right after this.
BLITZER: As we wait to hear, from Fort Hood's commanding officer Lieutenant General Mark Milley, there is the news conference, will be beginning soon. We want to continue to follow the breaking news. And I want to remind you it's still a very, very fluid situation now.
We know there are multiple fatalities on this post, including the shooter, the United State soldier also multiple injuries. Some of them were told extremely critical. Earlier tonight, the Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to reporters and Honolulu where he's been meeting with Asian Defense Ministers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I just got out the phone with our senior leaders with the Pentagon to get an update. I know there have been a number of reports out of the press. Fort Hood is still lockdown. We are still getting facts. It's a terrible tragedy, we know that. We know there are casualties of 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 that 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 share them with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Once we're waiting to hear from the Base Commander of the Commanding General at Fort Hood, Lieutenant General Mark Milley. As soon as he goes to the microphone will have live coverage, we'll get the latest details from him.
In the meantime, joining us now, our CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, the former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes. Our National Security Analyst Peter Bergen. And Retired US Army Major General James "Spider" Marks, former Commanding General of the US Army Intelligence Center. Guys, thanks very much.
Tom Fuentes, first to you. What are you hearing from your former colleagues and others, your sources, you have closed good sources in the law enforcement community?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, at this point Wolf, I'm not hearing from them because there's just, you know, not enough information that's coming from the scene and people are waiting for the briefing by the general. So there's really no other information going out other than what local media in Texas is reporting and already been, you know, put out there in public. But I'm not hearing anything new.
BLITZER: Let's bring in General Marks, this is, as we say the second mass shooting at Fort Hood within five years, second shooting at Fort Hood, it's an awful, awful situation. General Marks, I know you know General Milley, who was about to do this news conference, the Commanding General at Fort Hood, I assumed you served their at one point in your career, but when you heard about this what goes through your mind General Marks?
MAJOR GENERAL JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Wolf, the first thing I think about is to families that are again going through this -- a similar tragedy and you put that on top of what I would call the routine stress of an army that's been on a constant state of conflict for the last 13 years. The soldiers will respond and were be able to both physically and emotionally heal, as will the families. The families are amazingly resilient. We tend to focus on the soldiers and their sacrifices.
Now is the time as we stated earlier to pay attention to the families, to embrace those families. So this community will absolutely call as much beyond what they already do as a matter of routine and we'll stay very, very tight together. Because, you know, the strength of our army belongs exclusively with those families. If the families aren't strong, the soldiers are destructive. So this is a very important time to focus on them. BLITZER: The notion of American soldiers killing fellow soldiers, it's an awful, awful situation General Marks. So what can the military do if anything, to prevent these kinds of horrible incidents?
MARKS: Well, rules can be put in place, rules have been put in place Wolf. And clearly the military is a very disciplined environment. No one better than a soldier understands the cause of being engaged with weapon systems and to use them as a matter of routine. And also the soldier has seen the incredible cost of being a part of an army and military that's been in a state of war for the last 13 years. So this is a part of their environment. It's a part of their DNA.
What is most difficult is when you separate the soldier from a combat zone. You have to be able to separate and segregate those emotional feelings, so the soldier can achieve normal -- the new normal, when he or she is back in the cantonment area, back where the families are located. That's the most difficult thing to achieve. Frankly, they do it quite well. Obviously their aberrations like we're seeing right now.
BLITZER: Peter Bergen, let's talk a little bit about Fort Hood and what happen back in 2009, specifically November 5th, when U.S Army Major General Nidal Hasan open fire and killed fellow soldiers, injured many others. Eventually, last year he was convicted 13 counts of murder, 32 counts of attempted murder. He admitted that he wanted to target U.S. soldiers. He said, "We're about to deploy to Afghanistan to protect the Taliban and the Taliban's leadership." That's what he said. Even though he didn't testified directly, that's what he said during the course of a various statements that he made. Yet for some reason this was not formally categories as an act of terror. What wasn't it an act of terror? It was sort of seen by law enforcement as workplace violence.
PETER BERGEN, AUTHOR OF BOOKS ON OSAMA BIN LADEN & AL QAEDA: Well, you know, Wolf, he was tried in a military court. He wasn't tried in a conventional court. And my understanding of military law is that terrorism is not a charge that he would necessarily have been, you know, convicted under, you know, it's a very straightforward murder. A trail he admitted that he did it. It wasn't really necessary to go to terrorism charges.
And by the way he had no links to a foreign terrorist organization. He had been in contact with the leader of Al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula via e-mail, but the leader Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen didn't tell them to do this basically, kind of ignore the e- mails that he had. But I think relevant to the discussion we're having right now is what did Nidal Hasan do? He bought in 20 magazines. So he had an enormous amount of supply of ammunition. He shot 214 bullets in the cost of 10 minutes. He killed not only 12 soldiers, he killed a civilian.
And as we hear about what is going on in Fort Hood over the past several hours, it's clear that somebody, you know, with (inaudible) casualties we're seeing, we're seeing somebody who didn't just bring in a hand gun, it was a much larger kind of assault. And there are some similarities from Major Nidal Hasan. So which raises the question, you know, "What did we learn from the last time around?" Secretary Gates who was in Defense Secretariat Institute and review and he said a number of things had to happen.
And I think some of them did happen at Fort Hood and some are didn't. The first thing he said, "We might need to have a better mass warning emergency system." And then we saw that in play today. He also said we need to have a better understanding of workplace violence in the military. We need commanders who understand people who might be at risk. We need them to be brief on this and in this case and obviously we're dealing with a number of soldiers on the based, you know, this particular soldier clearly wasn't, you know, in the sides of the commanders above their man that was able to do this horrible crime.
BLITZER: And Major Nidal Hasan, even if he did not have formal official links to any terror groups, he certainly was inspired by Al- Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula by Anwar al-Awlaki. Among others he made that clear.
All right, standby guys, we have a lot more to discuss. We're waiting word directly from the Army at Base Fort Hood, Texas. We'll have live coverage with Lieutenant General Mark Milley, the Base Commander about to speak to reporters. We're also going to get an eyewitness account to what happened today. Stay with us.
BLITZER: This case have a new video coming in to CNN. Wounded -- people who are wounded being taken to a local hospital over Fort Hood, Texas just outside the hospital. You see folks being carried in helicopters on the scene as well. The breaking news we're following about half past the hour right now, an awful situation.
We're waiting to hear directly from Fort Hood's commanding general about the shooting there, multiple fatalities, multiple injuries, the gunmen were told dead. This is the second such shooting in less than five years at Fort Hood, Texas.
Here's how one eye witness described what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TYLER: There are 18 ambulances apart from a street from me. There are people being shuffled to the ambulances and taking 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 secured possible as well as the street connecting to it. They're not letting anyone in this area. I'm stuck.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So this remained a very act to see sirens, cars, announcements ...
TYLER: They're not using sirens. They're more doing along the lines of a silent approach. They're definitely not taking any chances with this, but there was two SWAT vehicle that went by followed by two of the newer Bell County constable units, three state troopers, and one unmarked unit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it leave 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's a bunch of buildings now. There are people running around some building to building. At this time, I would be -- it would be safe for me to assume now. This is an assumption that he hasn't been located at this point given the fact that there is so much congestion and 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. I was right there about that time. I was on maze. And about the time that that happened, they instantly hit the emergency broadcasting in some -- for Fort Hood telling everybody to keep shelter, close your windows and doors, turn off your air ventilation systems, and then take shelter immediately.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow. OK. So, it was a pretty chaotic situation. When that happened, were there people described sort of the scene in the events that unfolded once you heard that?
TYLER: It seems that happened and literally looked like if you were (inaudible) into a room and turn on the light and there was a bunch of bugs and they just scattered. Everyone instantly went to their room, locked their doors, and you can just feel the intensity and the sense of fear in the area.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Heartbreaking story unfolding. Joining us to the phone right now, the Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore, he was Deputy Commander of the 1st Cavalry for two years at Fort Hood. And General Honore, I'm sure you'll understand if we have to breakaway to go to Lieutenant General Mark Milley, the commanding general at Fort Hood. He is about to deliver some statement and answer reporters' questions at a news conference at Fort Hood. You'll understand why we'll go there. We'll have live coverage.
But when you hear about soldier on soldier murder at Fort Hood again, what goes through your mind General Honore?
GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, RET. LIEUTENANT GENERAL US ARMY: Well, you know, a little bother me most by tradition that sounds sanctuary (ph). As a police, we come back due to be with our families, to train for the next mission of diplomats, we go on that diploma to come back to our families that we leave, to those who remain behind, as well as the surrounding communities to take care of them. And when (inaudible) like this happened, it breaks that trust between a soldier and his family and his community.
And I hope General Milley can quickly tell the families there what's going on and allow them to go back about their normal (inaudible). If you noticed about the city and doing (inaudible) on the city, around 90,000 people collectively with families, kids, as well as civilians, when we got (ph) all the soldiers. And you look a lot of city down for that law (ph). So he need to get this back to normal, deal with the wounded, take care of the family-related and just give that post back open so those families can get back about their lives and deal with this mourning that the family is going to have to go through.
BLITZER: And we stepped (ph) to the microphone. I'm sure General Milley will give us the latest information, fatalities, those injured, and where we go from here. How do you secure one of the largest military installations in the world? You're talking about Fort Hood, Texas where you served for two years.
HONORE: Absolutely. You know, we go through an extreme procedure of checking every vehicle coming on that post to make sure we know who's in it. And when we increase our readiness, we actually check the counts of vehicles and talk to people. This is normal operation. We're not operating at (inaudible) event. So, all day people have been gone getting off (ph) that installation by just showing an I.D. or showed us sticker on the vehicle. So it is the control facility for measure safety. But it goes to show, well, this (inaudible) condition we have at any place and any time, someone would have gone to take all the people lives. It happens almost daily in America.
BLITZER: It certainly does but it doesn't have -- what doesn't happen -- and you well noticed General Honore as where a member of the United States military opens fire and starts killing fellow soldiers. It happened back in November 2009 when U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan did that. He was eventually convicted of 13 counts of murder, 32 counts of attempted murder, that is a really rare occurrence, isn't it General Honore?
HONORE: Absolutely. Well, if I made the data and we'll show that -- and when it happens in this -- in the Nidal case, and I hope we don't have a repeat of that, it's a double get on our military families and our soldiers because anywhere you wear that uniform, people are looking at you with that eye (inaudible) look out what happened on that post and it reflects on our community. But that's a strong community. They are resilient. They are (inaudible) and they'll get back and hopefully not having to response another one of this anytime soon and hoping those families can get back to their lives.
BLITZER: All right general. Thanks so much. General Russel Honore is joining us.
Let me show our viewers what's going on right now. You're looking at live pictures from Fort Hood, Texas. We expect Lieutenant General Mark Milley to be speaking momentarily. In fact, I think he's at the microphone right now. He's getting ready to walk up to the microphone. He is the commanding general of the U.S. military base which is one of the largest military bases in the world not only in the United States.
And today, for viewers who may just be tuning in, another horrible shooting incident occurred second time in five years and there have been multiple fatalities and casualties as a result of what happened today. Let's take a quick break. When we come back, we'll hear from the general.
BLITZER: If you just joining us, we're following breaking news, tragic news out of Fort Hood, Texas multiple fatalities, multiple injuries in another shooting incident at the U.S. army base. This is the second shooting rampage there in less than five years. We're standing by for a news conference shortly from the commanding officer, the commanding general at Fort Hood.
This is Lieutenant General Mark Milley. He's going to go to the microphones. There you see the microphones right there. We'll get the latest details, number of people killed, number of people injured, where we go from here, who was the shooter, was there a motivation, was there any political motivation, what's going on. We're going to be hearing from Lieutenant General Mark Milley, the commanding general at Fort Hood. We're told, momentarily, we'll have live coverage of course here on CNN.
In the meantime, let's bring in our Justice Correspondent Pamela Brown. She's got some new information. What are you learning Pamela?
BROWN: Yeah. Well, we're learning from Wolf -- we're learning from sources Wolf that the shooter in this case used a semiautomatic handgun. Again, learning from sources, it's believed that the shooter uses semiautomatic handgun. We know that ATF agents are there on the scene right now. They're going to be looking at where this handgun was purchased, how the shooter obtained it and so forth. So in this early sage in this investigation, it is believed again that the shooter used a semiautomatic handgun.
And also, we're learning from sources, as we've been saying Wolf, that it's believed this was a soldier on soldier incident that that's how they started. And sources are telling us that the attacker here was wearing fatigue. So perhaps, that's what it's leading investigators to believe that this began as a soldier on soldier incident. But again, it's still very preliminary as we've been reporting agents, FBI agents, as well as local and state law enforcement. They are on the scene still clearing out buildings, still going building to building. The area is still on locked down. So, it's very fluid in active situation.
BLITZER: Do we know anything about the shooter of any political motivation?
BROWN: I can tell you that at this early stage, they're still trying to learn everything they can about the shooter. Well, sources are telling us that they do not believe, again preliminarily, that terrorism was a factor here, but of course not ruling that out. What they're going to look at is this individual's social media commentary, any sort of pre-event indicators, any sort of trail this person left behind to show a motive at some sort. But, it's just too early to definitively say whether there were any political motivations that kind of thing, Wolf.
BLITZER: And once again, we're standing by for Lieutenant General Mark Milley. He is the commanding general at Fort Hood. He'll go to the microphones and make a statement and answer reporters' questions.
Pamela, I know you're working your sources. We'll get back to you.
Let's get some context now. Fort Hood is certainly sprawling U.S. army base. In fact, it's America's largest army base. The shooting within its medical brigade building, not far from the installations, Darnall Army Medical Center, that according to a soldier who lives nearby.
Tom Foreman is joining us now to give us a little bit more on exactly how this was unfolding and the nature of this (inaudible), Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Wolf, this is a big sprawling base and it's a sprawling base for a reason. This base was actually founded to deal with issues of tank warfare many, many years ago. So they needed a lot of land around for that purpose. Basically, the main part of the base is laid out through here Wolf and sort of a rectangular pattern side to side. We go to the main gate of the base is the one that were shutdown fairly early on in this process and a lot of focus was right here for a while in terms of making sure they knew who is coming and who is going.
If you go down this road a bit, there's a main road in. There's another checkpoint here. You come to the base headquarters right here. This is really the command center of the base in the middle where so many things would center around. And then you mentioned the hospital and where the shooting is believed have happened. That's all right down here. Again, very close, there's a gate over there, the headquarters over here, this big medical center there on the base that serves not only thousands of soldiers but thousands of families connected to those soldiers coming in there with their wives, their children, their husbands, also to people who needs some sort of care during this time. So, very busy place right in here.
We've mentioned many times Wolf the shooting that happened before. If we go over here to the western end of the camp, you use a poster, you get to where the shooting has happened with Nidal Hasan that was up in this area. The building where that happened was slightly (ph) to be torn down after his trial. That was a readiness center for soldiers there.
So Wolf, this is all surrounded by communities that come right up to it. The town of Killeen, Texas is very close by. And one of the things we noted earlier that is worth remembering in all of this is that in fact this community has not only dealt with what happened on this base with Nidal Hasan in this incident, but 23 years ago, just outside the base of Killeen, one of the biggest shootings in this country's history at the Luby's cafeteria which affected many families connected to this base.
So the civilian and the military community here has been through a tremendous amount in a very short time Wolf and certainly there are many people living on both sides of the base barrier here or the base boundary who would remember all this incidence, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yeah. So many of those soldiers from Fort Hood. They get ready at Fort Hood to go oversees during -- or they were in Iraq -- to Iraq, to Afghanistan where it is a dangerous situation. They don't expect a dangerous situation on the home base at Fort Hood that's why this is so awful a lot (ph) of time. Thanks very much.
As we await the commanding general from Fort Hood, CNN's Ed Lavandera is standing by. He is over at Fort Hood at the gate there. He is joining us by phone. This news conference expected to begin were told at fairly soon, right?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's our understanding. You know, several minutes away, you can imagine here tonight in Fort Hood and in surrounding area very tense situation. And so, a lot of the victims and local hospitals are dealing with those victims and trying to save lives potentially at this point. We were told by one local hospital that have taken in six shooting victims that the condition of those victims range anywhere from stable to several that were incredible condition.
So, you know, intense care is going on right now and very close (inaudible) pay to the situation in the conditions of those soldiers. So, even though things appear to us, the initial danger here has settled down. There's still a great deal of concern here and I've just hold in to the Fort Hood Killeen area Wolf tonight and I think (inaudible) streets coming in. You've been even telling that in the town of Killeen, some are very quite. Not a lot of collars out on the road and the entrance is leading into the main gate for reporters (ph) but completely quiet in (inaudible) station up several hundred yards away from the main gate checking cars and asking people, you know, why they're pulling up into the area. So, still very a situation that it's very tense and a situation that many people are monitoring closely wanting (ph) to see the conditions of the soldiers that were victims in today's shooting.
BLITZER: Ed Lavandera is on the scene for us now at Fort Hood. Standby Ed, we're going to get back to you. We're waiting to hear from the Fort Hood commanding general shortly, the news conference getting ready to begin. We'll take another quick break much more of our special coverage right after this.
BLITZER: Approaching the top of the hour right now. We're learning -- about to learn much more about the shooting today at Fort Hood, Texas. The commanding general there expected to brief reporters momentarily. We have live coverage gearing up for all of you. At the mean time, let's bring in Tom Fuentes, Peter Bergen, Retired Major General James "Spider" Marks to discuss what's going on.
Spider, you're familiar with the U.S. Military. It's a heartbreaking situation when you see as we did back in 2009, the United States major -- Army Major Nidal Hasan go ahead and start randomly murdering fellow soldiers and something similar happened today. We don't have the numbers. We know there's multiple fatalities. We know there are multiple injuries. We do know that a United States soldier open fire on fellow soldiers. MARKS: It's a horrible situation to be a part of it, it really is. Again, we don't know enough about what just took place. We know everything about what Major Nidal Hasan did and how he and his own twisted way attributed posttraumatic stress and affiliation with soldiers who had just come back he had not avoid. But he had associated some of this posttraumatic stress and had assimilated it on himself and took it out on some additional soldiers before they deployed.
It's -- that was a horrible incident but we move forward, we need to be very, very cautious about what we know right now and what we can speculate about. Clearly, there are not enough facts we've all tried to dance around the fact. We don't know enough. And hopefully, General Mark Milley is going to layout information in great detail so that we can all, especially the community, can get their arms around that.
In this community, I lived at Fort Hood not only as a child but also as a commander at a relatively senior level, and I need to tell you, those connections in those see news (ph) into the community can't be anymore fulsome or rich. So not only does the Fort Hood community grieve but the local community grieves as well.
Mark has this -- Mark Milley has this obligation and he will do it exceptionally well to embrace that entire community, tell them exactly what he knows, not allow for speculation and go about the business of healing. And then there's going be a full after actual review to determine what we can take from this, what can we elicit, and what can we put back in the force to be better prepared to these types of unfortunate incidence.
BLITZER: Well, we can learn from this to make sure it doesn't happen. Again, if it all possible, Tom Fuentes, this is going to be a U.S. military taking the lead in this investigation that occurred on the U.S. military base although the FBI is being brought in to help, right?
FUENTES: Right. Well, normally, the FBI would have primary jurisdiction but the priority have a prior agreement between the FBI and the U.S. army in particular that soldier on soldier will be handled by army criminal investigative division with FBI support both in the forensics and any other leads that need to be covered in the investigation.
BLITZER: We should sued (ph) enough Peter Bergen, if there was some terrorist inspired motive for what happened today as they're clearly was with Major Nidal Hasan.
BERGEN: Yeah. I mean, in the case of Nidal Hasan, you know, he had given a number of very kind of strange briefings which number of fellow officers complained about. You know, in one briefing in 2007, two years before he did the attack which is (inaudible) about environmental issues, he started talking about the war on terror and those being war against Islam in his view.
He also applied for conscience of subjective status. He tried to dropout of the army that was not successful. And basically, as General Marks was saying, you know, part of his motivation it seems was he was quite worried about the plane (ph) of Afghanistan. You know, he presented it as a sort of heroic act. But I think the reserve, you know, he didn't want to go Afghanistan basically.
BLITZER: Everyone standby. Let's take another quick break and we'll be right back.
BLITZER: Truly heartbreaking evening at Ford Hood, Texas, another mass shooting with memories of the first one still so terribly fresh. Any moment now, the base commander will go before the cameras and tell us precisely what's going on. Our special coverage continues throughout the night starting right now with Don Lemon.