Fort Hood offers prayers for victims of mass shooting

November 8th, 2009 - 12:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Fort Hood (Texas), Nov 8 (DPA) Chaplains were tending to the spiritual needs of a flock shocked by a mass shooting at the US Army’s Fort Hood, preparing to offer words of comfort at Sunday services.
Investigators continued to seek answers in the shooting of soldiers preparing to deploy overseas, in which 13 people were killed and 30 wounded. Seventeen survivors remained hospitalised, 10 of them in intensive care, Colonel John Rossi told reporters who converged on Fort Hood.

Services at nearly a dozen chapels across the post were to go on as usual Sunday, but with a special emphasis on praying for the victims of Thursday’s shooting, Chaplain Frank Jackson said.

“The focus is on restoration, healing, coming together and reaffirming hope,” said Jackson, who noted the many chaplains at the facility had been meeting with victims and their families since Thursday’s attack.

Army officials Saturday named the 13 people killed in the shooting, before holding a brief moment of silence.

The alleged gunman, army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, remained in the intensive care unit of the Brook Army Medical Centre in San Antonio, Texas, but had been removed from a ventilator, Rossi said.

Texas Governor Rick Perry met with many of the victims Saturday in a hospital and told reporters that the survivors appeared to be making progress.

“There’s some that are going to be a long time healing up, some that will be out in a few days and everything in between,” he said.

Chris Grey, a spokesman for the army’s Criminal Investigation Unit, said investigators have found no evidence that contradicts the belief that Hasan acted alone when he allegedly opened fire with two hand guns. Grey stressed that no motive had yet been established for the attack.

Hasan was to have deployed in late November to Afghanistan but had expressed his opposition to the war. He reportedly shouted, “Allahu Akbar”, or “God is great”, before emptying two handguns at the Texas base’s centre where soldiers are prepared for deployment overseas. Rossi said Hasan fired more than 100 rounds.

Investigators have conducted more than 170 interviews and were at work reconstructing the scene.

There was no evidence that any of those who died had been killed by those responding to the attack.

The shootings shocked a military base accustomed to grieving for soldiers killed in combat. The rampage brought the wars closer to home and highlighted the growing stress on the men and women who have been repeatedly deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan for extended combat duty during the last six to eight years.

The mental health of soldiers has become an increasingly high priority for the US Army, which has been coping with a high number of suicides by soldiers who returned from battle.

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