President Barack Obama vowed that investigators will get to the bottom of a shooting incident Wednesday at Fort Hood, Texas, seeking to reassure the nation whose sense of security once again has been shaken by mass violence.
In a hastily arranged statement, Obama said he and his team were following the situation closely but that details about what happened at the sprawling Army post were still fluid. He said the shooting brought back painful memories of 2009, when 13 were killed at the same post in the deadliest attack on a domestic military installation in history.
Offering thoughts and prayers to the entire Texas community, Obama pledged to do everything possible to ensure Fort Hood had everything it needed to weather a difficult situation and its aftermath. Standing in front of a black curtain, with an American flag nearby, Obama reflected on the sacrifices that troops stationed at Fort Hood have made -- including during multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama's comments came as U.S. officials said one person was dead and 14 wounded at the Army base. Fort Hood's Directorate of Emergency Services had an initial report that the shooter was dead, but that the report was unconfirmed.
Obama's full statement can be read below:
"I just got off the phone with the vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff to get the latest on the shooting at Fort Hood. Obviously, we're all following it closely. The situation is fluid right now, but my national security team in close contact not just with Defense Department but with the FBI. They are working with folks on ground to determine exactly what happened and ensure that everyone is secure. Want to assure all of us we are going to get to bottom of what happened.
Any shooting is troubling. Obviously, this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago. We know these families. We know the service to their country and the sacrifices that they make. Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with the entire community, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure the community of Fort Hood has what it needs to deal with a tough situation but also any potential aftermath.
We're heartbroken that something like this might have happened again. And, I don't want to comment on facts until we know exactly what happened. But for now, I would hope that everyone across the country keeps the families of Fort Hood in our thoughts and in our prayers.
The folks there have sacrificed so much on behalf of our freedom. Many of the people there have been through multiple tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. They served with valor; they served with distinction. And when they're at their home base, they need to feel safe. We don't yet know what happened tonight but obviously that sense of safety has been broken once again. We need to find out exactly what happened."
The president spoke without notes or prepared remarks in the same room of a steakhouse where he had just met with about 25 donors at a previously scheduled fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee. White House officials quickly pushed tables to the side of the room to make room for Obama to speak to the nation.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking to reporters while in Honolulu to host a conference of Southeast Asian defense leaders, called the shootings a "terrible tragedy." Asked about security improvements in the wake of other shootings at U.S. military bases, Hagel said, "Obviously when we have these kinds of tragedies on our bases, something's not working."
Obama traveled earlier Wednesday to Michigan for an economic event before heading to Chicago. He planned to return to the White House on Wednesday evening.