By Debbie Gregory.
On November 5, 2009, at approximately 1330 local time, Major Nidal Malik Hasan entered Building 42003 at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center in Fort Hood, where he worked. The center provided routine medical treatment to soldiers immediately leaving on and returning from deployments to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hasan walked into the facility, without saying a word to anyone, and sat at an empty table and bowed his head for a moment.
After several seconds, Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, stood up and shouted, “Allahu Akbar” and pulled out a concealed FN Five-seven semi-automatic pistol and began firing at soldiers in the facility. Eyewitnesses claim that Hasan was deliberately attacking soldiers, several times passing on opportunities to shoot at people who were not in uniform. Michael Cahill, the one civilian who was killed, reportedly tried to stop Hasan by charging him with a chair. The only other civilian wounded in the attack was armed civilian police sergeant Kimberly Munley.
Hasan killed thirteen people in total, and wounded 30 more. All but the two listed were uniformed service members. All weapons on military bases outside of combat zones are limited to training situations and security forces; meaning that the soldiers were unarmed and defenseless against Hasan’s attack. He was finally shot and wounded by another civilian police sergeant, Mark Todd.
Hasan’s rampage lasted approximately 10 minutes. In that time, a total of 214 rounds were fired by Hasan, Munley and Todd. Hasan fired around 200 of those shots in his deliberate, premeditated attack on Army and National Guard personnel at Fort Hood. After the attack, Hasan was found to still have his pockets full of pistol magazines, containing 177 rounds of unfired ammunition. They also found an older model Smith and Wesson .357, that he never fired as part of the attack.
Since the attack, Hasan is paralyzed from the waist down, from Sergeant Todd’s shot. On August 23, 2013, Hasan was found guilty of all charges. He was sentenced to death.
Also, since that fateful day in 2009, Building 42003 had been sealed off. On February 18, 2014, the building was demolished. Base officials at Fort Hood decided to plant trees and place a memorial plaque on the site where the building once stood.
Some people might ask why they didn’t repair the building or rebuild on the site, sending a message that the American military is strong and resilient. But it would be doubtful that anyone from the Fort Hood community would want to go back into the building where such a vicious and deliberate attack took place.
The story of Building 42003 shows us that not everything can be rebuilt, replaced, or made good as new. This doesn’t have to be a negative realization. Sometimes, a return to normalcy is impossible. But we can always start over, in a way that honors and remembers what we have lost.