By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD - Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan purchased an FN Five-seveN pistol Aug. 1, 2009, according to documents and testimony presented during his Article 32 hearing Thursday.
The weapon fires 5.7x28 mm ammunition. Criminal Investigation Division special agents testified Wednesday that 214 5.7x28 mm casings were recovered in November at Fort Hood's Soldier Readiness Processing Center. They matched the weapon found on the man who was charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of premeditated attempted murder: Hasan.
The prosecution concluded Thursday its portion of the hearing, which lasted eight days and included testimony from 56 soldiers, civilians and investigators.
Hasan's defense team, led by retired Col. John Galligan, is set to begin presenting its case Nov. 15. The start date was Nov. 8, but scheduling conflicts arose with a psychiatrist set to evaluate Hasan at his lawyers' request. Col. James Pohl, the Article 32 investigating officer, Thursday granted the defense's request for a delay.
Fredrick Brannon was the first to take the stand Thursday. He was an employee at Guns Galore, a Killeen firearms retailer, last year when a man came to the store July 31, 2009, and asked for the "most high-tech handgun we had."
A regular customer at the store, Spc. William Gilbert, was there that Friday and tried several times to "feel out" what the man wanted to use the gun for before making recommendations.
The man, who Gilbert identified as a major wearing an Army Combat Uniform and a medical badge, wouldn't give an intended purpose, but had two criteria: It had to be the most technologically advanced and it had to hold a lot of bullets.
Gilbert, Brannon and the manager all agreed upon the FN Five-seveN, Gilbert testified.
Gilbert, who is familiar with firearms and owns an FN Five-seveN, said he gave the major a rundown of its capabilities. It has low recoil, is light and is "very, very easy to fire with one hand," Gilbert said. He also explained the 5.7x28 mm rounds' impact on targets.They talked 45 to 60 minutes about the weapon, and Gilbert said he could tell the man was unfamiliar with firearms. The man told the specialist he was "very, very helpful to him," said "thanks" and left, Gilbert testified.
Gilbert was asked Thursday if the man he helped that day was in court. He pointed to Hasan.
Identifying the customer
Brannon processed a Federal Firearms Transaction Record on Aug. 1 when the man came back to buy the weapon, which retails for $1,299. Soldiers are required to show Texas identification or a military identification card and permanent change of station orders showing they live in the state so firearms dealers can submit the information for an FBI background check.
The checks can take anywhere from two minutes to days, Brannon said.
The man submitted his military identification card and orders, which indicated he arrived July 15, 2009, at Fort Hood. The name on the transaction record read "Nidal Malik Hasan," according to information submitted as evidence by the prosecution.
Brannon was later asked if the man he sold a weapon to Aug. 1 was present in court. He pointed to Hasan and said, "That would be the gentleman in the wheelchair."
Becoming a regular customer
Hasan returned to Guns Galore every week or two to buy ammunition and magazines for his weapon, Brannon said. Magazines for the FN Five-seveN typically hold 20 rounds, but Hasan purchased extensions that expanded the capacity to 30.
Brannon asked Hasan why he bought so many magazines. He said he didn't like spending time loading his magazines at the range and preferred to do it in the evening while watching TV or during the week.
He started off buying four to five boxes of ammunition during each visit, but that increased to six to eight as he bought more magazines, Brannon said. Each box holds 50 rounds.
Hasan initially purchased SS192 rounds, but after the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced that type was no longer available to civilians, it was discontinued. Stores were allowed to sell what remained of their stock, Brannon said.
Hasan started purchasing blue-tipped rounds, which were designed to fragment when they hit targets, Brannon said. A witness who testified earlier this week said he saw blue-tipped ammunition in the magazine when he handled the weapon after the shooting Nov. 5.
Brannon was asked by the defense if Hasan said or did anything atypical of a customer or violated the law during their interactions. Requesting the most high-tech handgun available was the only thing out of the ordinary, Brannon said.
Also in court Thursday:
Hasan recorded video July 31 or Aug. 1 of Guns Galore's manager giving a demonstration of how to disassemble and load the FN Five-seveN. It was unclear in court if the video was taken before or after Hasan purchased the weapon.
"He wanted to know everything there was to know," Brannon said.
When questioned by the defense, Brannon said Hasan told him he wanted to review the footage.
The prosecution played part of a video in court and a man's voice can be heard in the background responding to the demonstration with "OK" and "Mmm hmm." He also asked the manager how the weapon was cleaned and was told with a bore brush.
"Like with an M16?" the man holding the cell phone said.
John Choats, co-owner of Stan's Outdoor Shooting Range in Florence, testified Hasan was a student in his concealed handgun license certification class Oct. 10, 2009. Hasan bought a membership to the range and practiced there with his FN Five-seveN.
For more on day eight testimony, go to www.kdhnews.com/forthoodshooting.