Update: Fort Hood shooter considered killing Fort Benning soldiers prior to impending deployment

tstevens@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 7, 2013 

United States Army Medical Corps Major Nidal Hasan — the man accused in the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas, shooting — considered shooting Fort Benning soldiers after he was told he would be deployed to Afghanistan, according to a document obtained by Fox News.

The army psychiatrist, who was acting as his own attorney in a trial that began Tuesday but was halted Wednesday, faces 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. He is the sole person accused of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting.

According to a section of the 49-page “Full Report of Sanity Board, US v. MAJ Nidal M. Hasan" provided to Fox News by Hasan's civil attorney John Galligan, Hasan considered driving to the deployment center at Fort Benning during his Virginia pre-deployment leave after he learned that he was scheduled for a transfer to the local base prior to his tour in Afghanistan. However, he reconsidered when he realized he did not want to be "caught in an unknown territory with weapons and ammunition in his car."

The report states that a week before the Fort Hood shootings took place, Hasan was interrupted by Lt. Col. Kirk Phillips and given notice that he was required to report to Fort Benning no later than Nov. 28, 2009, for his deployment in Afghanistan. The deployment notice came as a shock to Hasan, who had been given the impression by military leaders that he would be stationed in Fort Hood for one to two years before being deployed.

The notice was a catalyst for Hasan's plans, who decided to utilize the Soldier Readiness Processing Building as the site for his acts after foregoing a trip to Fort Benning. He also considered going forward with the deployment to Afghanistan and carrying out a shooting there, telling the Sanity Board that he did "not have a set plan."

Prior to the Fort Hood shooting, Hasan bought a pistol from Guns Galore in Fort Hood, and began practicing head and chest shots at a firing range. He reportedly fired about 2500 rounds during his time at the shooting range, and also bought red and green lasers to aid him in accuracy. When questioned by the board, he allegedly stated, "I'm a single doctor... what am I going to do with all that money?"

American-born Hasan acknowledged during the evaluation that "doing something violent" became more appealing to him near the end of his residency, as he believed America was engaging in violence against Islam. He also told the board that he planned to avoid civilian deaths during the shooting, because he believed the Muslim community would accept the deaths of soldiers more readily than the deaths of civilians. However, he had considered including civilians in the shooting prior to that decision, as they help soldiers ready themselves for deployment.

Hasan also told the board that he recognized carrying through with the shooting would effectively end his psychiatric career. The document states that he expected to either be killed during the attack or to serve life in prison. As such, he reserved the right to change his mind up until the shooting on Nov. 5, 2009. Hasan said he went through with his plan because fighting for God was a noble deed."

On Wednesday, Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, Hasan's lead court-appointed standby attorney, accused him of deliberately swaying the court toward a conviction and ultimately the death sentence.

According to The Associated Press, Poppe said he is willing to step in and be Hasan's defense lawyer. But he asked that his responsibilities as co-counsel be minimized if Hasan continues to work toward being executed.

It is "clear his goal is to remove impediments or obstacles to the death penalty and is working toward a death penalty," Poppe told the judge overseeing the case at the Texas military base.

The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, then cleared the courtroom.

During his opening statement on Tuesday, The Associated Press reports that Hasan told jurors that "the evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter." Hasan has attempted to plea guilty to his charges previously, but is not allowed to enter that plea under military rules that forbid guilty pleas in death penalty cases.

The trial was expected to take months, as Hasan, who was paralyzed during the shooting, is in a wheelchair and requires regular breaks. The trial was previously delayed by a fight over Hasan's beard, which violates military regulations.

This story has been updated to correct the date of the Fort Hood shooting.

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