In search of answers
Special Agent Michael “Scotty” Sharpe, of the 902nd MI Group, played a key role in the investigation following the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. (photo by Pfc. Samantha Hall)
The U.S. Army suffered a terrible tragedy when a gunman opened fire on unsuspecting Soldiers and Civilians at Fort Hood, Texas, Nov. 5, 2009.
The incident, which took place at a Soldier Readiness Center on the installation, resulted in the death of 13, while more than 30 others were wounded in the attack.
Afterwards, the Army, as well as the country in general, was left searching for answers as to how something like this could happen.
One of the individuals charged with that task was Special Agent Michael “Scotty” Sharpe, an intelligence operations specialist assigned to the 308th Military Intelligence Battalion, 902nd MI Group.
In the days after the tragedy, Sharpe was named the Army’s representative for the Federal Bureau of Investigation Joint Terrorism Task Force in Austin, Texas, and was assigned by the FBI to be the case agent for their counterterrorism investigation regarding Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan – the leading suspect in the Fort Hood shooting.
In this new role, Sharpe worked jointly with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Division. He was responsible for turning over every rock in Hasan’s life, in an attempt to uncover any nexus to international terrorism, which involved several hundred interviews of potential witnesses and associates of Hasan.
“I was responsible for the processing of the crime scene to include collection of evidence, trajectory analysis, collection of shell casings and weapons on scene,” he said. “We also forensically examined over 40 pieces of digital media, including any and all computers associated with Hasan, as well as any and all telecommunications equipment associated with Hasan.”
Leaving no stone unturned, Sharpe and his team wanted to ensure an iron-clad case.
“We issued over 50 grand jury subpoenas in support of the Hasan investigation,” Sharpe said. “And we conducted a financial analysis of Hasan that spanned his career within the U.S. Army.”
As part of the preparation effort for Hasan’s Article 32 hearing, the FBI also produced a physical crime scene model and a three-dimensional computerized animation program of the crime scene in support of the Army’s prosecution team.
As a result of the hard work and dedication of countless individuals such as Sharpe, Hasan, an Army psychiatrist who was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan, has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder.
And for his investigative efforts, Sharpe was presented the Lt. Col. Arthur D. Nicholson Award, by the National Military Intelligence Association during a ceremony in McLean, Va., May 2, 2010.
The Nicholson Award is named for an outstanding military intelligence officer of exceptional talents who gave his life in the course of exercising his profession.
According to the National Intelligence Military Association, “Nicholson was on a mission in East Germany in 1985, when he was shot by a Soviet guard and left to die. His courage in taking risks to accomplish his mission, and his cruel death in the line of duty, mark him as a heroic intelligence professional inspiring the highest standards of dedication, performance and sacrifice.”
Sharpe “skillfully directed the investigation efforts of a diverse, large-scale interagency team,” according to the award’s citation, and his actions, both in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and in the complex, high-profile investigation that followed were deemed exemplary of the Nicholson award.
“This experience although extremely tragic, allowed me to represent the U.S. Army and the FBI on this extremely high profile case,” Sharpe said.
Sharpe feels the case gave him invaluable experience working jointly with CID, Army prosecutors and other local authorities, all of whose efforts were extremely valuable, such as the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Rangers Division and the Department of Emergency Services.
“Although I am a task force agent, the FBI afforded me the authority to conduct this investigation on behalf of the FBI and allowed me to fully disseminate all intelligence and investigative information to the appropriate Army investigative entity,” he said. “This experience has been exhaustive, overwhelming and truly rewarding. I had the pleasure of seeing the full extent of the FBI’s capabilities brought to bear during the conduct of this investigation.”
Those who know Sharpe were pleased to see the special agent’s hard work during such a difficult time rewarded.
“Scotty is an intelligent, no nonsense, and straight to the point counterintelligence agent. He is easy going and very approachable,” said Capt. Andrew T. Maas, commander, Company C, 308th MI Battalion. “These characteristics, combined, help to create an atmosphere where Scotty can have open lines of communication with everyone he encounters enabling him and everyone around him to be successful.”
In addition to the prestigious award, Sharpe’s efforts were also recognized by Lt. Gen. Richard P. Zahner, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence.
“Your efforts ensured outstanding coordination management of multiple law enforcement agencies played a role in the investigation,” said Zahner during the ceremony.
Married, with two children, Sharpe retired as a first sergeant after 24 years of active duty, where he served as a counterintelligence agent since 1985. He plans to serve in his civilian position supporting the JTTF on behalf the U.S. Army until he retires from civil service.