U.S. President Barack Obama is attending a memorial service for the 13 people killed in last week’s shooting rampage at Fort Hood in the southwestern U.S. state of Texas.
The president and first lady Michelle Obama were meeting privately Tuesday with the families of the victims before joining the thousands gathered for the community memorial service.
The Obamas also were visiting wounded soldiers and their families at Fort Hood and are to meet with more injured troops following the service.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says President Obama has asked every agency involved in the investigation to determine why and how the shooting happened and to assure him it will not happen again.
The suspected gunman, Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan, also is accused of wounding 30 other people on the Army post last week before he was shot by a civilian police officer.
The Washington Post newspaper reported Tuesday that Hasan, who is Muslim, warned senior Army physicians a year-and-a-half ago that to avoid “adverse events,” the military should allow Muslims to be released as conscientious objectors in wars that involve fighting other Muslims.
Hasan was about to be deployed to Afghanistan.
Authorities say he exchanged 10 to 20 communications since last year with a radical Muslim cleric in Yemen known for his anti-American teachings — but officials determined that the contacts were part of Hasan’s research.
The cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, once taught at a mosque in(the southeastern U.S. state of Virginia that Hasan attended. On Tuesday, a posting on the cleric’s English-language Web site praised Hasan as a “hero” and “man of conscience.”
Officials at an Army hospital near San Antonio, Texas, where he was taken, say he is in serious condition but is awake and talking.
His family has retained a retired Army military judge to represent him.
Some of Hasan’s friends have told reporters he was outspoken in his opposition to the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
‘Some information for this report was provided by Reuters and AP.’