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Picture begins to emerge of Fort Hood suspect

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Fort Hood gunman identified
  • Gunman identified as Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, officials say
  • According to military records, Hasan was born in Virginia
  • A federal official said he is a U.S. citizen of Jordanian descent

A CNN Special Investigation drills down on the causes and the impact of the Fort Hood shootings, at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on CNN TV.

(CNN) -- A picture began to emerge Thursday of the suspect in the Fort Hood shootings as a mental-health professional who had worked to help others in high-stress situations.

The alleged gunman was identified as Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, military officials said. Hasan's office at the base's Darnall Army Medical Center is about a mile from where the shootings occurred.

Though it was previously reported he was dead, officials reported late Thursday he was alive, wounded and in stable condition.

Staff Sgt. Marc Molano, currently based at Fort Knox, Kentucky, told CNN he was treated by Hasan for post-traumatic stress disorder while at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington earlier this year.

"Dr. Hasan provided me with nothing but the best care," Molana said. "He was a very well-mannered, polite psychiatrist, and it's just a shock to know that Dr. Hasan could have done this. It's still kind of hard to believe."

Molano described him as "far and away one of the best psychiatrists I ever dealt with."

A soldier who served two tours in Iraq and is awaiting medical retirement for chronic PTSD and severe mental disorders called Hasan "a soldier's soldier who cared about our mental health."

But, he added, "Hasan hears nothing but these horror stories from soldiers who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan -- just hearing it I'm pretty sure would have a profound effect."

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Mindy B. Mechanic, an associate professor of psychology at California State University, Fullerton, said listening to horror stories can indeed have an impact, but was unlikely to have such an extreme one.

The impact on therapists who work with traumatized individuals is known as vicarious traumatization or compassion fatigue, she said. "But they don't go out on shooting sprees," she said. "They might get depressed or have some emotional fallout from it, but to go on a shooting spree is not part of what happens to people from having to deal with trauma survivors all the time."

Mechanic -- who did not know Hasan -- said people don't just snap. "When you start looking back, there are crumbs that suggest everything was not hunky-dory."

According to military records, Hasan was born in Virginia, and a federal official said he was a U.S. citizen of Jordanian descent.

Military records show Hasan receiving his appointment to the Army as a first lieutenant in June 1997 after graduating from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, with a degree in biochemistry.

Six years later, he graduated from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences' F. Edward Hebert School Of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland, and was first an intern, then a resident and finally a fellow at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Promoted to captain in 2003, he was promoted to major in May.

In 2009, Hasan he completed a fellowship in disaster and preventive psychiatry and was assigned to Darnall in July.

He was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon, but was never deployed outside the United States.

Nader Hasan, Hasan's first cousin, issued a statement on behalf of the family:

"We are shocked and saddened by the terrible events at Fort Hood today. We send the families of the victims our most heartfelt sympathies. We, like most of America, know very few details at this time.

"Here is what we do know about our cousin. Nidal was an American citizen. He was born in Arlington, Virginia, and raised here in America. He attended local high schools and eventually went on to attend Virginia Tech.

"We are filled with grief for the families of today's victims. Our family loves America. We are proud of our country, and saddened by today's tragedy. Because this situation is still unfolding, we have nothing else that we are able to share with you at this time."

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