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Obama Pledges Support for Fort Hood Community

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2009 – President Barack Obama condemned the fatal shooting rampage today on Fort Hood, Texas, that left 11 soldiers and a civilian police officer dead and 31 soldiers wounded.

Obama promised full-scale support to get to the bottom of what happened and help the Fort Hood community recover from the tragedy.

Police detained but later released three soldiers they initially believed were involved in the shooting. The gunman, who had been reported as dead, survived being shot by the civilian police officer and is hospitalized in the company of a Criminal Investigative Division officer, officials said.

The shooting began about 1:30 p.m. Central Time at the post’s Soldier Readiness Processing Center and Howze Theater, Fort Hood officials confirmed.

The incident reportedly occurred as soldiers were conducting their final preparations for deployment.

“These are men and women who have made the selfless and courageous decision to risk, and at times, give their lives to protect the rest of us on a daily basis,” the president said.

“It's difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas,” he said. “It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil.”

Obama said he is in close coordination with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen in monitoring the situation.

Meanwhile, the White House is working with the Pentagon, FBI and Department of Homeland Security to ensure Fort Hood is secure.

Obama said his thoughts and prayers are with the wounded and families of the fallen, and the Fort Hood community.

“We will continue to support the community with the full resources of the federal government,” he said. “We will make sure that we get answers to every single question about this horrible incident.”

Obama said he has no greater honor than serving as commander and chief, but also recognizes the responsibility that entails in ensuring servicemembers are properly cared for and that their safety is assured while they are at home.

“So we are going to stay on this,” he said. “But I hope in the meantime that all of you recognize the scope of this tragedy, and keep everybody in their thoughts and prayers.”

Speaking to reporters at Fort Hood, Army Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone, commander of 3rd Corps and Fort Hood, credited quick response by police forces with bringing down a gunman after he opened fire at the soldier readiness unit.

“There were several eyewitness accounts that there was more than one shooter,” he said, noting that two additional soldiers had been taken into custody.

“The soldiers and family members are absolutely devastated,” he said. “It’s a terrible tragedy,” he said, but offered assurances, “We will work through it.”

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