Also By Evangeline Cuipek
According to news reports at 1:30 p.m. Thursday a shooting broke out at the Fort Hood military base 23 miles from UMHB, leaving a reported 13 dead and about 31 people injured.
One shooter, Maj. Malik Hasan, was critically injured by a local Killeen policeman. Hasan was a Virigia Tech graduate according to WSLS News in Virginia.
Chuck Todd of NBC News said Hasan was set to deploy on Nov. 28. The shooting is reported to have broken out in the Soldiers Readiness Processing Center. Killeen and Temple school districts are on a soft lock-down. Several agencies, including the Texas Rangers, have arrived on scene.
The soldiers were filling out paperwork in the Medical and Processing Center in the Soldier Readiness Center (the old sports dome complex) to be able to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. The guards located at the security checkpoints are reported to have been civilians.
The nine school campuses located in Killeen are on lock-down.
UMHB Senior Vice President for Administration and Chief Operating Officer Steve Theodore issued this statement via email: “All students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to restrict travel to the Fort Hood/West Bell County area until law enforcement officials confirm the situation is resolved. In the meantime, please limit calls to the campus police department to emergencies only.”
President Obama called the shootings “tragic” and “a horrific outburst of violence.” He expressed his condolences for the shooting victims.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said, “I am shocked and saddened by today’s outburst of violence at Fort Hood that has
cost seven of our brave service members their lives and has gravely injured others. My heart goes out to their loved ones. Our dedicated military personnel have sacrificed so much in service to our country, and it sickens me that the men and women of Fort Hood have been subjected to this senseless, random violence. I know all Americans share this concern for the soldiers and their families who are affected by this tragedy.”
Governor Rick Perry ordered that flags remain at half-staff until Sunday.
The Associated Press reported that Greg Schanepp, the regional director of Congressman John Carter’s office, was at a graduation ceremony on the base at the time of the shooting.
AP reported that Schanepp was warned about the danger by a soldier who had been shot in the back.
At one point in the afternoon, half of the trending topics on Twitter were about Malik Hasan, the gunman who was shot down by a Killeen policeman.
A Student Who Lives on Base
Junior Christian studies major Kelsy Caffas lives on Fort Hood. Her husband is serving in Iraq.
She told The Bells, “I’ve had a lot of people call me … family from all over call …. I mean the news is out there, so people know.”
“I haven’t talked to (my husband) about it today …. He probably doesn’t know that, I don’t think,” Caffas said.
“I live on the east side,” she said. “I’ve been on campus since 9:00. And I’m not going to go back, because it’s locked down, and it’s probably best to stay here, and out of people’s way that are trying to get things worked out down there.”
“I’ll probably go back tomorrow, just listen to the news and make sure everything sounds OK,” Caffas said.
Caffas found out about the shooting at 2:15 p.m. during her Greek class.
“Somebody in my class got a text message and … announced it,” she said. “I was scared. I was kind of shocked, I mean … you hear about things like this happening, but you never think it’s going to happen where you live …. The majority of the soldiers I know on base are overseas right now, but I do know a few soldiers that, like my neighbors … that are on base.”
“It’s scary …. The people who live around you could get hurt,” she said. “I don’t have all my neighbors’ phone numbers …. But everyone I’ve called has been home and safe, so that’s good.”
“I just think it’s going to be chaos in Iraq when they … tell everybody. I’m really worried about that,” Caffas said.
“To have something … catastrophic happen while you’re not here has got to be really hard on everyone overseas because they can’t be with their families.”
“My phone’s been going off constantly,” she said. “Pray for the families, because it’s just a scary situation.”
Senior public relations major Necole Michael, whose husband returned from Iraq just yesterday, told The Bells, “My husband called and said that they are doing an accountability check. This means that they have to account for all of the soldiers and then they will allow people to go home.”
Junior youth ministry major Bethany Carter said, “My dad is a retired chaplain’s assistant, and is now the youth minister for Fort Hood. We actually had some of (Fort Hood) kids at our house today because of early dismissal. They were with us when they heard the news, but as far as we know, all of their parents are OK. they’re all very shocked and angry.”
Carter has close ties to the base.
“My family’s lives are pretty much spent on the base now. They have youth group there every Tuesday and
Wednesday night. So we are very close with the base.”
Junior education major Cassie Konickek’s father is retired from the military and currently works at Fort Hood as a contractor. She told The Bells, “I am connected with Fort Hood by my dad. Last I head from him, earlier this afternoon, he said that they were more than likely going to shut down the phone lines because it was getting so crazy.”
Konichek said she doesn’t know much about what is going on, but is watching TV to stay informed.
“All I know is the same thing on the news.”
Konickek’s father recently called her to say they were still on lock-down at the base.
This statement was released on the Scott and White Memorial Hospital of Temple: “Scott & White Memorial Hospital has received 9 gunshot victims from Fort Hood. More are expected. No specifics are known regarding the incident resulting in the shootings. At this time the victims coming to Scott and White are suffering from wounds. We have nothing else at this time. All patients are adults.”
KCEN reported that people are standing in line that extends beyond the doors at Scott and White to donate blood. The number to call for for blood donation information is 254-724-4376.
A prayer service will be held at 7 p.m. at First Memorial Baptist Church at 4001 Trammier Road Killeen, Texas.