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Shootings at Fort Hood

'I could hear the bullets going past me'

As investigations into the the Nov. 5 massacre at the Fort Hood, Tex. army base ensue, the military community deals with the realities of violence at home and abroad.

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By Greg Jaffe and Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 7, 2009

The first frantic 911 calls had come just four minutes earlier. Kimberly Munley, a civilian police officer for the Army, rounded the corner of a squat, one-story building at 1:27 p.m. Thursday and came face to face with Army Maj. Nidal M. Hasan.

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Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, had already killed or wounded dozens of soldiers, having fired more than 100 rounds, according to Army officials. He was still shooting at unarmed troops who were dragging away their bleeding colleagues when he locked his eyes on Munley, raised his pistols, and charged her.

The petite officer dropped to the ground for protection and fired back. Bullets struck Munley, 35, in both thighs and one wrist. At least one of Munley's rounds hit Hasan in the chest, knocking him to the ground, witnesses said, although the details of what happened are still unclear.

"She moved to the threat and eliminated it," said Chuck Medley, director of emergency services at Fort Hood, Tex. As she fired off her rounds, a few other officers also closed in on Hasan, who lay bloody and unconscious.

The police officer's heroics ended a horrific rampage for Fort Hood soldiers, who had already experienced years of deployments, bloodshed and memorial services in Iraq and Afghanistan. Army officials said Hasan killed 13 people and wounded 38. Hasan's family members said he was upset about his upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

"Candidly, this was a kick in the gut, not only for the Fort Hood community but the entire Army," said the Army chief of staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who commanded U.S. forces during the darkest and bloodiest days in Iraq.

Around 1 p.m. Thursday, about 300 soldiers were lined up to get vaccinations, fill out paperwork and have their eyes tested at the Soldier Readiness Center, where troops bound for war zones undergo medical screening. Across a courtyard, other soldiers were lining up in cap and gown for a graduation ceremony. None of the soldiers was armed. At bases in the United States, weapons and ammunition are locked in arms rooms and are taken out only for training exercises.

Hasan, who allegedly carried at least two pistols and more than a half-dozen magazines of ammunition, appeared to have planned his attack carefully, Army officials said.

Some soldiers reported that the gunman shouted "Allahu Akbar!" -- Arabic for "God is great!" -- before emptying several magazines of ammunition. Other Army officials said they could not confirm that Hasan had shouted the phrase.

The gunfire was methodical, continuous and well-aimed, said soldiers at the scene. Most of the wounded soldiers were struck two or three times, in the chest, stomach or neck.

Helping the wounded

Spec. Marquest Smith was working on paperwork for an allergy shot in one of the readiness center cubicles when he heard the familiar snap of handgun rounds, followed by yelling and moaning. Then someone shouted, "Gun!"

He pushed a woman helping him with his paperwork under a desk.


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