By Roxana Tiron - 11/06/09 01:20 AM EST
The Senate Armed Services Committee is seeking a "detailed accounting"
of a Thursday shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, that left 12 soldiers dead
and 31 wounded.
"Our hearts go out to the families of the brave Americans who lost their lives in today’s senseless violence at Fort Hood, Texas, and to those who were injured," said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the defense policy panel. "For all Americans, and especially for those of us who know and work closely with members of our military, this is the saddest of days."
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Thursday pledged that the Department of Defense "will do everything in its power to help the Fort Hood community get through these difficult times."
Army Secretary John McHugh said that the Army is focused on "taking care of our soldiers and their families."
"The leadership at Fort Hood is marshalling the medical support and counselors necessary to take care of our soldiers and their families and to notify the next of kin," McHugh said in a statement.
Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist born in Virginia, was identified as one of the assailants in the mass shooting at a deployment readiness center on Fort Hood. Hasan was on a ventilator and unconscious in a hospital after being shot four times, according to the Associated Press. Initially, authorities believed they had killed him, only to discover later that he had survived. Two other soldiers were also reportedly taken into custody as suspects in the shooting.
Thursday evening messages of condolence started pouring in from lawmakers from across the country. Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), who represents Fort Hood, asked for a moment of silence in the House, while Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) requested that the Senate halt its business in memory of the slain soldiers.
"We would like to express our condolences to the soldiers, families, and civilians of the Fort Hood community. Our nation asks much of the men and women of our military, as well as their families, and we never expect such senseless violence to materialize at their homes," Reps. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) and Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), the chairman and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee said in a joint statement. "This was a terrible tragedy, and we will do everything we can to support the Fort Hood family."
Rep. Michael McMahon (D-N.Y.) called for better mental healthcare for military personnel in the aftermath of the shooting. "It's no longer just about combat -- we have soldiers attacking soldiers," he said in a statement. "While we do not know yet what the soldier's motives for this heinous act were, tragic events such of these have been occurring far too often lately. The statistics prove that incidents of suicide and violence among service men and women have been growing exponentially."