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6 Nov, 2009 19:29

US in state of shock after 2 gun attacks in 2 days

A gunman has killed at least one person and wounded five others at a business center in Orlando, Florida, just one day after another gun attack at Fort Hood, Texas left 13 dead and 30 wounded.

At around noon on Friday a gunman opened fire at the Gateway Center in downtown Orlando.

Police have arrested the alleged shooter as 40-year-old Jason Rodriguez, a former employee of one of the businesses in the building.

There are conflicting reports about the exact number of casualties and people still remaining in the building. At least four of the injured are said to be in serious condition.

The Florida shooting followed another shocking incident that took place Thursday. Thirteen people – one police officer and 12 military personnel – were killed and 30 wounded in a shooting rampage at the Fort Hood military base in Texas.

The police – trying to uncover clues as to the motive – have carried out a search of a house of the man who is believed to have done most of the shooting – an army major, Nidal Malik Hasan.

The suspected shooter, a 39-year-old psychiatrist practicing at Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, was shot multiple times and is now hospitalized on a ventilator. Previously it was reported that he had been killed.

Some reports suggest the US-born Muslim was angered about his deployment to Afghanistan. Officials said Nidal Malik Hasan may also have posted on the Internet about suicide bombings.

The attack is believed to be the worst mass killing on a US military base. The list of victims shot dead has been released. Among those killed was a 21-year-old pregnant woman who had returned home after serving in Iraq.

And according to reports, the shooting could have been worse if not for the actions of a female police officer, Sgt. Kimberly Munley. She was the first one to respond after the gunfire was reported. Munley was wounded in the hip in the exchange of fire, but managed to shoot the gunman four times.

The shooting took place at around 1:30 pm Texas time, and happened near the base’s “Soldiers Readiness” facility, where men and women receive medical exams to ensure they are in the appropriate physical shape required for soldiers.

Witnesses claimed he shouted “Allahu Akbar!’ (“Allah is great”) before opening fire.

Professor Walid Phares from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies thinks that this incident will be coined as the first US homeland terrorist attack since 9/11.

Fred Burton, a Chief Security Officer for Stratfor, a Global Intelligence Company based in Austin, Texas, explained to RT why this shooting is so significant for the US military:

“Fort Hood is the centre of gravity for the US military in the Middle East and a tremendous amount of people and surveillance are there on any given day,” he said.

Ivan Eland, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Peace and Liberty at The Independent Institute, thinks that since there is more than one person involved, the shooting was an organized plot, rather than a military employee coming back from overseas:

“If there is more than one shooter, clearly there is some sort of a conspiracy, but what the goal is, at this point, is unclear,” Eland explained.

President Barack Obama ordered the US flags of all federal government buildings to be flown at half-staff to mourn the victims.

President Obama will attend a memorial service for the dead on Tuesday. He also used his weekly address to praise the heroism of those who tried to stop the gunman.