Suspected Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan: Social awkwardness kept with him into adulthood
The suspect, a Virginia Tech graduate and one-time Vinton resident, was shot but survived at Fort Hood, Texas.
By Matt Chittum and Jorge Valencia
The Roanoke Times
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of shooting 12 people to death and wounding 31 others at Fort Hood, Texas, on Thursday, was the son of Roanoke merchants and restaurateurs, lived in Vinton and graduated from Virginia Tech.
Hasan was born in Arlington to Palestinian immigrants from near Jerusalem who later settled in Vinton.
Neighbors on Vinton's Ramada Road remembered him as a "studious" boy who went by "Michael."
While his brother Eyad -- "Eddie" -- would play football with Zachary Garlick, 21, who lived across the street, Michael didn't come out to play much.
"Michael was more school and less play," said Zachary Garlick. "He'd get home and he'd have his book bag, and he'd go straight inside."
That quiet demeanor and apparent social awkwardness would follow Hasan into adulthood.
Hasan's family settled in an apartment on Lancelot Lane off Cove Road in Northwest Roanoke, the 1987 Roanoke City Directory shows.
Hasan's father, Malik Awadallah Hasan, immigrated from Palestine to Virginia in 1962, when he was 16, stories in the Times' archives show. He moved to Roanoke in 1985, with his wife, Hanan Ismail "Nora" Hasan, following in 1986. Neighbors on Ramada Road said they moved to the Vinton neighborhood in the early 1990s.
The Hasans ran the infamous Capitol Restaurant on the Roanoke City Market from 1987 to 1995. It was a dive beer hall and diner with a bad reputation and a lot of down-and-out regulars. The Hasans closed the Capitol to open the short-lived, Mediterranean-themed Mount Olive on Jefferson Street.
The Hasans also owned the Community Grocery Store on Elm Avenue in Roanoke.
Shabo Karkenny bought the Elm Avenue property from the Hasan family, including Nidal and his brothers, Eyad and Anas, in 2006.
Karkenny said Thursday he met Nidal Hasan once, when he came into the store earlier this year and the two chatted briefly.
Karkenny said he was surprised to see the same man's picture on the news Thursday, identified as the suspect in the Texas shootings.
Hasan's father died in 1998. Neighbors on Ramada Road said he died of a heart attack in the house. Hasan's mother died three years later. Neighbors said she had kidney disease.
The Garlicks said Nidal Hasan went to Virginia Western, and The Roanoke Times archives show he graduated from Virginia Tech in 1995.
He went on to the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences' F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine in Bethesda, Md., where he finished in 2003. He did his residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., through 2007.
He was also a fellow at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Bethesda military medical school, where he was a fellow in disaster and preventive psychiatry.
The Associated Press reported he commissioned in the Army as a captain and was promoted to major in May.
Virginia Tech, however, had no record of Hasan's participation in its Corps of Cadets or ROTC program. The Washington Post reported he enlisted in the Army after high school.
"His parents didn't want him to go into the military," said Nader Hasan, a cousin in Northern Virginia. "He said, 'No, I was born and raised here, I'm going to do my duty to the country.' "
"He would tell us the military was his life," Hasan's aunt, Noel Hasan of Falls Church, told the Post. He "did not make many friends."
He was unmarried and had no children. Colleagues at Walter Reed reported he shied away from contact with women.
He remained a devout Muslim, praying daily at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, Md., sometimes arriving in his Army fatigues.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the aunt said, he had been harassed about his Muslim faith and sought to be discharged from the military.
He went as far as retaining a lawyer to see if he could get out of the Army before his contract was up, The Associated Press reported.
While an intern at Walter Reed, Hasan had some "difficulties" that required counseling and extra supervision, said Dr. Thomas Grieger, who was the training director at the time.
Grieger told The Associated Press that privacy laws prevented him from going into details but noted that the problems had to do with Hasan's interactions with patients. He recalled Hasan as a "mostly very quiet" person who never spoke ill of the military or his country.
Others reported Hasan was plain-spoken about his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He told a former Army colleague, Col. Terry Lee, "Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor," Lee told Fox News.
Hasan was also deeply distressed by his impending deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, family members said.
While he worked to aid people scarred by war, that work in turn scarred Hasan.
"He must have snapped," Noel Hasan said. "They ignored him. It was not hard to know when he was upset. He was not a fighter, even as a child and young man. But when he became upset, his face turns red. You can read him in his face."
Staff writers Tonia Moxley and Amanda Codispoti, news researcher Belinda Harris, online producer Jordan Fifer, The Washington Post and The Associated Press contributed information to this story.