FORT HOOD, Texas — As if going off to war, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan cleaned out his apartment, gave leftover frozen broccoli to one neighbor and called another to thank him for his friendship, common courtesies and routines of the departing soldier. Instead, authorities say, he went on the killing spree that left 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, dead.
Investigators examined Hasan's computer, his home and his garbage Friday to learn what may have motivated the suspect, who lay in a coma, shot four times in the frantic bloodletting. Hospital officials said some of the wounded had extremely serious injuries and might not survive.
The 39-year-old Army psychiatrist, who was born in Arlington, Va., emerged as a study in contradictions: a polite man who stewed with discontent, a counselor who needed to be counseled, a professional healer now suspected of cutting down the fellow soldiers he was sworn to help.
Relatives said he felt harassed because of his Muslim faith but did not embrace extremism. Others were not so sure. A recent classmate said Hasan once gave a jarring presentation to students in which he argued that the war on terrorism was a war against Islam, and "made himself a lightning rod for things" when he felt his religious beliefs were challenged.
The whys and hows
Investigators were trying to piece together how and why Hasan may have gunned down his comrades in the worst case of violence on a military base in the United States. The rampage unfolded at a center where some 300 unarmed soldiers were lined up for vaccines and eye tests.
Soldiers reported that the gunman shouted "Allahu Akbar!" — an Arabic phrase for "God is great!" — before opening fire Thursday, said Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone, the post commander. He said officials had not confirmed Hasan made the comment.
Hasan's family said in a statement Friday that actions of which he is accused were deplorable and don't reflect how the family was reared.
"Our family is filled with grief for the victims and their families involved in yesterday's tragedy," said Nader Hasan, a cousin who lives in northern Virginia. "We are mortified with what has unfolded, and there is no justification, whatsoever, for what happened. We are all asking why this happened, and the answer is that we simply do not know."
Hasan is the son of Palestinian parents who ran a restaurant and bar in Roanoke, Va., from 1987 to 1995 and owned a small grocery store in that city.
The 30 wounded were dispersed among hospitals in central Texas.
W. Roy Smythe, chairman of surgery at Scott and White Memorial Hospital, said several patients were still at "significant risk" of losing their lives. Army briefers told lawmakers in Washington eight other people were treated at a hospital for stress and trauma.
The dead included a pregnant woman who was preparing to return home, a man who quit a furniture company job to join the military about a year ago, a newlywed who had served in Iraq and a woman who had vowed to take on Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Worries about backlash
Army Chief of Staff George Casey said he asked bases around the country to assess their security. He said he was worried about a backlash against the thousands of Muslim soldiers serving dutifully in uniform.
Hasan was due to be deployed to Afghanistan to help soldiers with combat stress, a task he'd done stateside with returning soldiers, the Army said. Army spokeswoman Col. Cathy Abbott was uncertain when Hasan was to leave, but he was in the preparation stage of deployment, which can take months.
Jose Padilla, the owner of Hasan's apartment complex, said Hasan gave him notice two weeks ago that he was moving out this week.
Earlier this week, Hasan asked Padilla about his native language. When Padilla said it was Spanish, Hasan immediately went up to his apartment to get him a Spanish-language Koran. Padilla said Hasan refused to reclaim his deposit and last month's rent, surrendering $400 that the major said should go to someone who needed it.
"I cannot comprehend that the enemy was among us," Padilla said, tearing up. "I feel a little guilt that I was basically giving housing to someone who is going to do so much destruction."
Law enforcement officials said they are trying to confirm if Hasan wrote Internet postings that include his name about suicide bombings and other threats, equating suicide bombers to soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade to save the life of fellow soldiers.
Neighbor Patricia Villa said Hasan came to her apartment the day of the shooting, and before, to give her vegetables, an air mattress, T-shirts, a Koran and offer her $60 to clean his Killeen, Texas, apartment after he left.
Jacqueline Harris, 44, who lives with her boyfriend, Willie Bell, in the apartment next door to Hasan, said he called Thursday at 5 a.m. and left a message.
"He just wanted to thank Willie for being a good friend and thank him for being there for him," Harris said. "That was it. We thought it was just a nice message to leave."