FORT HOOD — Maj. Nidal Hasan looked upon victims with a “cold, calculated stare” while he rapidly opened fire on soldiers during his alleged shooting spree in 2009, a soldier testified Thursday.
Spc. Meagan Martinez’s comments were among a day of chilly testimony from victims and witnesses at a soldier processing building on post where the shooting took place. Jurors heard of the pandemonium that erupted at Station 13, a crowded waiting area of folding chairs that seated soldiers undergoing routine pre- and post-deployment processing.
The 42-year-old Army psychiatrist’s trial at Fort Hood resumed Thursday with witnesses telling the court Hasan chose a block of about 45 soldiers as his first target. He could face the death penalty if convicted of killing 13 people on Nov. 5, 2009.
“I am just watching him slowly walk, walk back and forth and just shooting us for what felt like an eternity,” Martinez said.
She made it out unscathed, unlike multiple soldiers who testified Thursday.
Former Pfc. George Stratton said he could see trails of blood in the grass and roadways outside of the building from soldiers who had “low crawled” to exits.
Spc. Matthew Cooke told jurors Hasan shot him five times as he escaped from the facility. He later underwent multiple surgeries.
But the largest overall view of the shooting came from the sergeant in charge of Building 42003, the scene of the attack.
Sgt. 1st Class Maria Guerra said she and two colleagues huddled in her office at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center while she said Hasan rapidly fired a handgun at soldiers.
Guerra told the court she opened the office door slightly, and peered outside. She said she saw Hasan rapidly dropping ammunition magazines and reloading his laser-sighted handgun.
“He’s firing,” Guerra said. “He’s firing at Station 13; he’s firing at soldiers running out the front door, soldiers running out the back door.”
She barricaded herself in her office, planting her feet against the side of a desk and her back to the door and listening to the repeated gunshots. At one point, she said she heard a woman yell.
“I heard ‘Please don’t! Please don’t. My baby! My baby,’” Guerra said, referring to Pfc. Francheska Velez, who returned from Iraq after discovering she was pregnant.
Eventually, Guerra said she could tell the shooter moved outside. She emerged from her office and saw a thick cloud of gun smoke.
‘NO ONE IS MOVING’
“I could hear a pin drop; it was silent,” Guerra said. “I see bodies. I see bodies everywhere. No one is moving.”
She then began to perform triage, yelling for nurses and medics to come out and tend to the wounded.
As nurses moved in, Guerra said she had to tell staff multiple times to stop treating victims who showed no signs of life.
She grabbed a marker and walked from victim to victim, writing a “D” and the time on the foreheads of the dead.
Thursday’s hearing was the second full day of testimony after Hasan’s stand-by counsel halted Wednesday’s hearing when they asked to either be removed from the case or take over Hasan’s defense.
Presiding judge, Col. Tara Osborn, ruled against their request and told Hasan’s former defense counsel to continue assisting him.
“That relieves you of any ethical liability,” she said. “If I am wrong, which I am not, you’re acting on a specific order of the court.”
On Thursday morning, former lead defense attorney, Lt. Col. Kris R. Poppe, described Hasan’s strategy as “morally repugnant.”
He is accusing Hasan of “acting in concert” with the prosecution to guarantee a death sentence.
Poppe said he will appeal the judge’s decision.
Trial day 3: Who testified
- Former Maj. Laura Suttinger — Commander of unit preparing to deploy to Afghanistan who was in the building when the shooting occurred.
- Sgt. Alan Carroll — At Station 13, shot in the shoulder.
- First Sgt. James Cox — Deployed with shooting victim Pvt. Francheska Velez in Iraq. Ordered her home after they discovered she was pregnant.
- Staff Sgt. Michael Davis — Shot in the back.
- Retired Sgt. 1st Class Ingar Campbell — A case manager at the SRP.
- Latoya Williams — Data entry clerk at SRP. Hasan told her to leave her desk, which is where he began firing on soldiers.
- Former Sgt. Monique Archiletta Matal — Supervisor of immunizations at SRP. Helped triage dead and wounded.
- Sgt. 1st Class Maria Guerra — Noncommissioned officer in charge of SRP. Witnessed part of shooting and coordinated triage.
- Former Pvt. Lance Aviles — At Station 13 when shooting started.
- Spc. Meagan Martinez — At Station 13 when shooting started.
- Sgt. Lamar Nixon — Staff at SRP. Hid in bathroom during shooting and escaped unscathed.
- Former Pvt. Amber Bahr Gadlin — Shot in the back. Helped carry a wounded soldier to a truck and to the hospital.
- Spc. Matthew Dennison Cooke — At Station 13 when shooting started. Shot five times.
- Former Pfc. George Oliver Stratton III — Shot in the shoulder.
- Former Staff Sgt. Alvin Howard — At Station 13 when shooting started. Shot in the shoulder.
Contact Philip Jankowski at email@example.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.