The incident occurred Wednesday afternoon at Fort Hood, the site of a notorious 2009 mass shooting.
Law enforcement sources said four people were killed, including the gunman, who died of a self-inflicted wound. Authorities said 11 other people were wounded, some of them seriously.
Sources told CBS News the shooter had been identified as 34-year-old soldier Ivan Lopez. A source said the violence apparently stemmed from some sort of soldier dispute.
In Chicago, President Barack Obama said he was following the situation closely.
“Any shooting is trouble. Obviously, this reopens the pain of what happened Fort Hood five years ago,” the president said.
“We’re heartbroken that something like this might have happened again,” Obama said. “I want to just assure all of us we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”
“It’s a terrible tragedy, we know that. We know that there are casualties, both people killed and injured,” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told reporters in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he was meeting with Asian defense ministers.
Warning sirens went off around 4:25 p.m. and all personnel were urged to shelter in place as the base went on lockdown.
“There has been a shooting at Fort Hood and injuries are reported. Emergency crews are on the scene. No further details are known at this time,” the post said in a brief statement.
A man who said he was a witness told CBS affiliate KWTX that about 20 shots were fired at a post motor pool. The man said he saw a soldier jumping over a fence and running away, but it was not clear whether that solider may have been the shooter.
Emergency crews from several surrounding communities headed to the base, home of the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division.
Officials at Baylor Scott & White Health said Wednesday evening that the hospital was treating four patients and that two others were en route. The patients had injuries to the chest, neck and extremities. Their conditions ranged from stable to quite critical, officials said.
First responders from surrounding communities headed to the post, home of the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division.
Ford Hood near Killeen in central Texas was the site of a mass murder on Nov. 5, 2009, when Maj.Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, opened fire at a soldier readiness center on the base. He shot 13 people dead and wounded more than 30 others. It was the worst shooting ever to take place on an American military base.Hasan, who was left paralyzed when he was shot by police responding to the shooting spree, has been sentenced to death for the rampage.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered sympathies to the Fort Hood community on Wednesday night.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fort Hood community in the aftermath of this tragedy. Many questions remain and our focus is on supporting the victims and their families,” Dempsey said. “This is a community that has faced and overcome crises with resilience and strength.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, asked Americans to pray for the victims and their families.
“Tonight, Texans’ hearts are once again very heavy. The scenes coming from Fort. Hood today are sadly too familiar and still too fresh in our memories,” he said. “No community should have to go through this horrific violence once, let alone twice.”
By Anita Fritz, The Recorder
It was 1948, three years after the end of World War II, when Earl Shaffer, a U.S. Army veteran from Pennsylvania, hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, something no one else had done to that point.
More than 14,000 people have hiked the entire trail since Shaffer, and U.S. Army National Guard veteran Joe Young of Orange says he hopes to be one of the next.
Many have attempted the 2,180-mile trek — some have finished, some have not. They’ve done it for many reasons: the challenge, the sheer exhilaration or just to be able to say they did it.
Others, like Young, decide they want to do it to find the piece of their soul they lost somewhere along the way — Young says he lost his in Iraq.
The 61-year-old veteran retired after spending 42 1/ 2 years in the National Guard. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, a type of anxiety disorder that occurs after someone has gone through an extreme emotional trauma that involves the threat of injury or death.
It’s obvious that he doesn’t like to talk about the specifics of what he saw in Iraq when he was deployed from 2003 to 2004 and again from 2005 to 2006. He served at Abu Ghraib prison and says if someone tries to push him too hard into talking about it and he starts to feel too uncomfortable, he simply leaves the room.
“I hope that sometime during my six-month hike with 13 other veterans I find that piece of my soul I’m looking for,” he said just days before he left for Georgia on March 14.
Young planned to begin on Spring Mountain in Georgia on St. Patrick’s Day and spend the next six months hiking to Mount Katahdin in Maine. He expects to cross Mount Greylock in North Adams in late July and reach Katahdin’s summit in September.
Last year, while perusing the Internet, he found the Warrior Hike’s “Walk Off the War” program for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and immediately contacted organizers.
“I’m in good shape and am an avid hiker, so I thought this would be perfect for me,” he says. “I needed something.”
The veteran, who is in the best shape of his life, according to himself and his wife, says he found it difficult re-adjusting to civilian life when he retired from the National Guard several years ago.
“You’re up early every day when you’re in the guard and you have a purpose each day,” he says. “After I retired I was still getting up early, but I didn’t know what to do with myself.”
That’s when Young says he found VetNet at Greenfield Community College, a club that helps veteran students return to their communities and school, and decided to enroll in college.
“I didn’t want to get a specific degree,” he says. “I wanted to do it for fun and learning. I took a lot of history classes, because that seemed really interesting to me.”
He says it took time to adjust to school.
“I had to sit in the back of the room, because I didn’t want anyone sitting behind me,” says Young. “You learn to do that when you’re deployed, especially to a place like Iraq.”
Young says there are plenty of groups that help returning veterans adjust, apply for benefits, and more, but veterans have to know where to go. He says a veteran should start with his or her local veterans agent and expand their search from there.
“Go online, too,” he says. “That’s where I found Warrior Hike. There are plenty of people out there who want to help.”
Like Shaffer did in 1948, Young says he plans to work out the sights, sounds and losses of Iraq on his hike. He says he won’t have a lot of contact with his family.
“I’ll have my cellphone, but I only plan to use it on weekends or in an emergency,” he says. “That’s just a choice I’m making so I can experience this to the fullest.”
Young says the 14 veterans, including himself, are expected to hike eight to 14 miles a day. They will each be carrying sleeping bags, tents, food, clothes and other necessities.
“We won’t all be sleeping in the same spot,” he says. “Some will move faster than others, but the end of the week, we are expected to be in the same spot.”
Young says the veterans will have the opportunity to stay with other veterans in their homes on weekends.
“We’ll be greeted each weekend by veterans from different VFWs, American Legions, and other veteran groups,” says Young. “I hear they are very helpful and hospitable.”
According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, which oversees the entire trail, statistics show that about one in four people who set out to hike from Georgia to Maine make it, while the rest return home for many different reasons, including injury, family matters, bad experiences or they run out of money. The hike typically takes from four to seven months to complete.
“I’m really looking forward to this being a therapeutic cleansing for me,” says Young. “I want to get my head back where it belongs.”
He says he is looking forward most to hiking with other veterans who understand what he has been through.
“We’ll be able to help each other,” he says.
“I also want to find some enjoyment,” says Young. “I have it here at home with my wife, and my kids and grandchildren, when they visit. I find it on my motorcycle. Now, I want to find it out there, on my own.”
Two years ago, two veterans started the Warrior Hike and finished the Appalachian trek. Last year, 12 others joined those two and did the same.
“We’re a determined bunch,” says Young. “When you think about what some of us have been through in war, you realize this shouldn’t be all that bad.”
Recognizing the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of long-distance hiking, Warrior Hike has partnered with the conservancy, the Continental Divide Trail Coalition and the Pacific Crest Trail Association to create the “Walk Off the War” program, which takes place all over the United States.
The program is designed to support combat veterans who are transitioning from military service by hiking through American’s national scenic trails.
Young says he was provided all of the necessary equipment and supplies by Warrior Hike. He has to supply his own food and clothes.
He says the six-month hike will allow him to decompress and come to terms with his wartime experiences, while learning to use the outdoors as an alternative form of therapy.
“It’s the camaraderie that I am looking forward to most,” says Young. “That runs so deep when you are serving in the military and then you get home and you miss it.”
Young says he has also been told by many veterans that everyone eventually has a good cry.
“I haven’t had my good cry yet,” he says. “I’m hoping it happens on the trail.”
According to Warrior Hike, the “thru-hikes” and the interaction veterans have with other veterans and members of trail towns’ veteran organizations and local communities along the way restores their faith in humanity and builds a network of lifelong friendships and relationships.
Young, who was born in Winchendon, grew up in Orange, where he lives today. He attended Orange schools and graduated with a degree in agriculture from Smith Vocational Agricultural High School in Northampton.
The retired sergeant-major plans to write about his experiences each day. He says he will not cut his hair or shave until he returns home — he started growing his beard six weeks ago.
“It’s the first time I’ve had a beard in my life,” he says. “I hope there are going to be a lot of firsts for me over the next six months.”
Young’s trail name is Quabbin Trekker, and in his first entry, dated Jan. 25, he writes, “I have decided to dedicate this hike in honor of all my brothers and sisters that have paid the ultimate price.” He ends each of the entries he has made since then, “Onward, upward, forward.”
BEDFORD, N.H. — When Gunnery Sgt. Bernie Ruchin was in combat on the island of Saipan during World War II, he took some artillery shrapnel in his right knee.
He didn’t know that the injury would eventually catch up to him in October when his knee gave way walking down the stairs of his home in Bedford. Ruchin tore four tendons and is currently going through rehabilitation.
Now, his fellow Marines are coming to his aid just as they would on the battlefield, but this time, they’re remodeling his bathroom.
The Building Dreams for Marines organization, a local nonprofit that does construction projects for Marines in need, is spearheading the effort.
Ruchin said he has trouble showering because of his knee injury, and the group is volunteering its efforts to build him a bathroom that is more suitable to his needs.
This is the fifth project for the organization, which has helped wounded Marines returning from recent combat missions. This time, it’s helping a Marine who served in combat for 12 years in WWII and Korea.
The renovation project will construct a new shower and put in a railing system to help Ruchin navigate his home more easily.
Ruchin said he likes to see such projects go to the younger guys, but he realized he needed some help and was convinced to let the Marines do the job.
The project is being overseen by Cobb Hill Construction and is expected to be completed by next Thursday.
A Libyan military plane carrying doctors and patients crashed Friday due to an apparent engine failure near Tunisia’s capital of Tunis, killing all 11 passengers and crew on board, media reports said citing local authorities.
According to reports, the Antonov plane went down after the pilot tried to land in farmland near the Grombalia region, about 30 miles southeast of Tunis, and burst into flames.
“The plane crashed… with 11 people on board — three doctors, two patients and six crew members,” Mongi El Kadhi, an emergency services spokesman, reportedly said. But, there has been no word about the identities of the passengers who died in the crash.
Defense spokesman Tawfik Rahmouni told a state news agency that the plane’s last communication, stating that the plane’s engines had caught fire, was made to the Tunis-Carthage International Airport before contact was lost.
Army units, a military medical team and civil protection services reportedly rushed to the scene to put out the fire and extract the bodies. The Libyan flag was still visible on the tail of the plane amid the burnt wreckage.
A team of investigators at the crash site managed to recover the black box flight recorder to establish the cause of the apparent engine failure. Sofiene Bejaoui, an air-traffic control official, said the aircraft was a Soviet-designed twin-propeller Antonov-26.
“The plane is a Libyan air force Antonov-26, registration number Five Alpha Delta Oscar Whiskey,” Bejaoui reportedly said.
This is the second crash involving a military plane in North Africa in the past two weeks. An Algerian military transport plane crashed into a mountain due to bad weather conditions on Feb. 11, killing about 77 people, making it the country’s worst air disaster in a decade.
A police report about the deaths of two former Navy SEALs on board the Maersk Alabama while the ship was docked this week notes that drugs and paraphernalia were found in the cabin where the men’s bodies were discovered, the shipping line said in a statement Thursday.
The former SEALs were working as security officers aboard the ship that was the focus of a 2009 hijacking dramatized in the movie “Captain Phillips.” They were found dead on Tuesday while the ship was berthed in Port Victoria in the Indian Ocean island nation of Seychelles.
Seychelles police have given no cause of death for Michael Daniel Kennedy, 43, and Jeffrey Keith Reynolds, 44. The men worked for a Virginia Beach, Va.-based maritime security firm, The Trident Group.
“We are working with the Trident Group to ensure the security personnel on Maersk Line, Limited vessels adhere to Maersk’s zero tolerance policy on the use of drugs and alcohol,” said the statement from Kevin N. Speers, a spokesman for the Norfolk, Va.-based Maersk Line Ltd.
The statement said that based on Maersk’s experience with the contractor, it believed that the deaths were an isolated incident.
But, it said it would confirm that all drug tests, background checks and training requirements were current, retest security personnel for drug use where necessary, audit its hiring, training and performance evaluation practices and re-evaluate shore-leave policy.
“The Trident Group will also immediately implement a random drug testing program to increase the frequency at which it screens security personnel,” the statement said.
The Maersk Alabama left the Seychelles after authorities completed an on-board investigation into the men’s deaths.
On Thursday, Seychelles police spokesman Jean Toussaint noted that officials were awaiting the results of autopsies and said, “As far as I know there is no evidence of physical trauma” on either man’s body.
He also said he was not aware that the Maersk Alabama had been cleared to leave and could not comment on that report. Speers said Thursday that the ship had left port.
The U.S. Coast Guard has said it also is investigating the deaths.
The Maersk Alabama is a Norfolk, Va.-based container ship that provides feeder service to the east coast of Africa and employs security contractors to provide anti-piracy services.
In a statement posted on its website, The Trident Group President Thomas Rothrauff said there “is no immediate indication as to the cause of death, but the deaths were not caused by operational activity.” Rothrauff wrote that the next of kin have asked that no further information be released and that their privacy be respected.
The Trident Group was founded by former Navy SEALs and hires former special warfare operators to perform security. On Thursday, the Navy confirmed that Kennedy and Reynolds belonged to the SEALs, an elite unit of the military’s special operations forces who are sometimes called upon to combat piracy.
In 2009, pirates hijacked the Maersk Alabama in waters off Somalia. Most of the crew members locked themselves in the engine room, but the pirates took Capt. Richard Phillips hostage. A five-day standoff ended when Navy SEALs aboard the USS Bainbridge shot and killed three pirates who were holding Phillips in a lifeboat. The “Captain Phillips” movie starring Tom Hanks as Phillips was released last year.
Kennedy, whose home of record with the Navy was Baton Rouge, La., enlisted in 1995 and completed his final tour of duty in 2008, according to a summary of his record provided by the Navy. Kennedy was assigned to an East Coast-based special warfare unit, according to the record. Virginia Beach serves as the home of the Navy’s East Coast SEAL teams. He had medals for serving in campaigns in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Reynolds, whose home of record with the Navy was Fountain Valley, Calif., enlisted in 1990. He was assigned to a West Coast-based special warfare unit until he was discharged in 2000. He had won two medals for good conduct while in the Navy.
Former military personnel frequently provide security on board ships sailing through the waters off Somalia to provide security against pirate attacks. Kennedy and Reynolds boarded the ship Jan. 29, Speers said.
The Alabama transports food aid to East Africa in support of the U.S. government’s “Food for Peace” program, according to Maersk Line. Crew members also help support the Bee Hive Children’s Home in Mombasa, Kenya.
Several crew members who were aboard the ship when it was hijacked in 2009 are suing Maersk Line and Mobile, Ala.-based Waterman Steamship Corp.
Nine crew members in the lawsuit, filed in Alabama in 2012, say they suffered physical and emotional injuries after Somali pirates boarded.
Walter Ehlers, the last living Medal of Honor recipient who came ashore on Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944, died Thursday at the age of 92, ABCNews.com reported.
Ehlers, who joined the United States Army in 1940, earned his Medal of Honor “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty” on June 9 and 10, 1944, during a battle near Goville, France, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
On the 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1994, Ehlers was chosen, along with another D-Day veteran, Alvin Ungerleider, to escort President Bill Clinton at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery.
“When they were young, these men saved the world,” said Clinton before a sea of aging D-Day veterans.
Ehlers also earned three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star during his service with the 3rd Infantry Division and the 1st Infantry Division.