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Fort Hood shooting survivors, locals react to D.C. massacre

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Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 4:30 am

Sparking memories of Nov. 5, 2009, local officials and Fort Hood shooting victims reacted with shock and grief to the news of a mass shooting Monday at a military installation in Washington, D.C.

The massacre at the Washington Navy Yard brought retired Army Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, who was shot seven times in the Fort Hood shooting, back to that fateful day in 2009; a day he said he never wanted anyone to experience.

“I am very shocked,” he said. “My heart goes out to the families of the deceased and the wounded. It brought back memories that shook me up a lot.”

Lunsford said he would tell survivors of Monday’s shooting to “draw strength from your faith and your family.”

Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin said Monday marks “another tragic event in our nation’s history.”

“Initially, it wasn’t reported to be anything major, but as it developed it became much more concerning,” he said. “Knowing people who were victims Nov. 5, 2009, makes you really understand how the loved ones and families of these people must be affected. It really just can’t be explained.”

Fort Hood security unchanged

Security at Fort Hood did not change Monday, but “remains vigilant,” Fort Hood officials said.

Thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and friends, according to a Fort Hood spokesperson.

The official said it is inappropriate to comment further at this time, but Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel did issue a statement.

“I will continue to monitor the situation closely,” Hagel said. He has been receiving regular updates and is grateful for the swift response of federal and local law enforcement, and for the professionalism of Defense Department personnel at the Navy Yard complex.

“The Department of Defense will continue to offer its full assistance in the investigation of this terrible and senseless violence,” Hagel said.

Monday’s shooting comes nearly four years after the worst shooting on a military installation in history at Fort Hood.

On Nov. 5, 2009, Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, killed 13 people and injured 32. He was sentenced to death Aug. 28.

Like the Fort Hood shooting, the events in the Navy Yard have left more than a dozen people dead, and the shooter wore a military-style uniform.

Former Killeen Mayor Tim Hancock, who was mayor in 2009 during the Fort Hood massacre, said Monday’s shooting is “truly sad” and brings back feelings from four years ago.

“We all need to let (D.C.) and the nation know that we stand by the families and the victims,” he said, adding he hopes anyone else responsible in Monday’s shooting will be captured alive so the nation can understand why the shooting happened.

“I was really pleased that our suspect lived because then we were able to find out why (former Maj. Nadal Hasan) committed that heinous crime,” Hancock said.

Copperas Cove Mayor John Hull said he was shocked when he saw the events unfold Monday morning in D.C.

“It’s a bad thing. There are all kinds of people, I guess, in this world,” he said. “I’m shocked that this happened here in the United States. It seems like that is getting to be the norm now; everyone just goes off the handle and starts shooting people.”

Kathy Platoni, an Army reservist, still struggles with images of her friend, Capt. John Gaffaney, bleeding to death at her knees at Fort Hood. On Monday, she stood in a doctor’s office trying to hide her shaking from the other patients in the waiting room as she watched the news unfold about a shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.

‘Stunned to the bone’

“It’s surreal. I’m stunned to the bone. I mean here we are again,” Platoni said in a phone interview Monday. “I was trying not to let the other patients in the waiting room see me shake, but I was shaken to the core.”

Keely Vanacker, whose father, retired Chief Warrant Officer-2 Michael Cahill, was shot and killed after he lifted a chair to try to stop the Fort Hood rampage, nearly broke down as she talked about Monday’s attack.

“This is exactly the same thing,” Vanacker said, her voice cracking with emotion. “I know exactly what those families are feeling. They have no idea what’s going on. They just have to wait.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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