The shooting at the Fort Hood Army training base in Texas sent television news into overdrive on Thursday.
Army spokesman Lt. Gen. Bob Cone said at a news conference that one shooter had been killed and two suspects were apprehended.
News of the shooting broke inside the 3 p.m. hour. MSNBC’s David Shuster reported the news at 3:13 p.m. followed by Fox News’ Shepard Smith at 3:16 p.m., CNN’s Rick Sanchez at 3:18 p.m. and HLN’s Chuck Roberts at 3:26 p.m.
On the broadcast side, ABC’s Charles Gibson broke in to regularly scheduled programming at 3:30 p.m. while CBS’ Katie Couric was live at 4 p.m.
By the 5 p.m. hour the death toll was confirmed at 12, including one civilian police officer, and 31 wounded, according to an Army spokesman.
Shepard Smith was in for Glenn Beck (who had an appendectomy on Wednesday) to report the story while Bret Baier took over in the 6 p.m. hour. At CNN, Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room was wall-to-wall on the shooting. And at MSNBC Chris Matthews began anchoring the story during the 5 p.m. hour while Ed Schultz continued to cover the shooting on his 6 p.m. program.
President Obama addressed the shooting at a previously planned news conference for Native American leaders. The president called the shooting a “horrific outburst of violence.”
“My immediate thoughts and prayers are with the wounded and the families of the fallen,” he said.
Early on news networks were exploring the notion that the shooter could have terrorist intentions or connections, stressing that it was only one scenario that authorities would be likely to explore.
Catherine Herridge, FNC’s national security correspondent, said investigators would be asking: “Was there a conspiracy? What was the level of premeditation? And was there something behind them driving this.”
ABC’s Brian Ross was the first to identify the alleged suspect: Major Malik Nadal Hasan, 39, who was about to be deployed to Iraq.
On CNN, retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré (a former deputy commander at Fort Hood) said his “mouth dropped” when he heard that such a high-ranking soldier may be the perpetrator.
Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison told MSNBC’s Matthews that the suspect (who she did not identify by name because she did not want get ahead of the Pentagon) was apparently distraught about going to Iraq.
“It’s very troubling and very sad,” she said.
At Fox News, Smith did not identify the suspect before he handed over anchor duties at 6 p.m. although other networks had named the suspect.
“We will not go with the name of that man until the United States Pentagon confirms it because to be wrong on something like this is something you cannot take back,” Smith said at 5:55 p.m. “When the Pentagon confirms it, we will tell you everything we know about him. To do otherwise would be irresponsible, and we’re not going to do it.”
The broadcast networks had deployed multiple correspondents to Fort Hood.
Don Teague was reporting for the CBS Evening News.
ABC had John Quinones in place to report from there for World News on Thursday with Terry Moran there for Nightline. Chris Cuomo will report live from Fort Hood on Friday’s Good Morning America. Bob Woodruff has also been sent to Texas.
On Thursday evening, NBC had Lester Holt, Janet Shamlian, Mark Potter, Jay Grey and Charles Hadlock en route to Fort Hood.