National

Nov 6, 2009 9:27 AM by Bea Karnes

Suspect shouted 'Allahu Akbar!' before shooting

The base commander at Fort Hood says soldiers who witnessed a shooting rampage that left 13 people dead reported that the gunman shouted "Allahu Akbar!" before opening fire at the Texas post.

Lt. Gen. Robert Cone was interviewed on several morning news programs Friday, where he revealed new details about the killings. He told NBC's "Today" show that suspected shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, made the comment, which is Arabic for "God is great!" before the rampage Thursday that also left 30 people wounded.

Military officials say they are still piecing together what motivated Hasan, an Army psychiatrist trained to help soldiers in distress, to turn on his comrades. Cone says Hasan was not known to be a threat or risk.

Hasan was shot four times during the rampage. Cone says he is hospitalized in stable condition and that military officials will interrogate him as soon as possible.

Lt. Gen. Cone says survivors have told him that Hasan carried out his gunfire in "a very calm and measured approach." Cone said some 300 unarmed soldiers were lined up to get shots and eye-testing at a Soldier Readiness Center when the shots rang out. Cone said one soldier who had been shot told him, 'I made the mistake of moving and I was shot again.' " The general said survivors told him that during the rampage, soldiers "would scramble to the ground and help each other out."

The general is crediting a civilian police officer for stopping the shooting rampage. Fort Hood police Sgt. Kimberly Munley and her partner responded within three minutes of reported gunfire Thursday afternoon. Cone said Munley shot the gunman four times despite being shot herself. Cone said, "It was an amazing and an aggressive performance by this police officer." Munley is in stable condition.

Lt. Gen. Cone also said he was inspired by a woman who helped carry a wounded victim and used her blouse as a tourniquet, then later realized she'd been shot in the hip.

A senior U.S. official in Washington isn't ruling out the possibility that Hasan had ties to radical groups, but isn't saying whether there's evidence to back it up.

Authorities at first thought one of the dead was the shooter, accounting for a delay in identifying him. He is under guard in a hospital.

Law enforcement officials say Hasan came to their attention at least six months ago, because of Internet postings about suicide bombings and other threats. It's not yet certain he authored the posts. It's also unknown whether that information was passed along to the Army. Base commander Lt. Gen. Cone has said Hasan was not a known threat.

FBI agents, local police and other agencies have searched the apartment of the Army psychiatrist suspected in the attack. Authorities had evacuated Maj. Hasan's Killeen, Texas, apartment complex before the search. Officials haven't said what was found.

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