FORT HOOD, Texas – As investigators continue to canvass a crime scene an area the size of two city blocks, details are emerging about the bravery soldiers displayed Wednesday when one of their own began shooting.
Maj. Patrick Miller, an Iraq veteran from New York, heard the “pop, pop, pop” of gunfire and rushed to get his soldiers into a closed office as quickly as possible, U.S. Rep. John Carter said Saturday.
While Miller was trying to help others, he was shot “in the gut,” but he put pressure on his own wound and kept moving the soldiers behind a door, said Carter, R-Texas, calling Miller “a very courageous young man.”
Sgt. 1st Class Daniel M. Ferguson, who was killed in the shooting, saved others by blocking a door with his body, Carter said.
Friday, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, said a chaplain also stepped in to shield and save other soldiers.
Investigators now believe an argument Spc. Ivan A. Lopez had with his superiors, which reportedly involved a leave request, was the impetus for the shooting, Milley said.
Carter and U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, met with survivors of the shooting on Saturday morning. Ten of the 16 wounded have been released from hospitals and returned to their units, Milley said.
This is the second mass shooting by a soldier in uniform at the enormous Army post, one of the largest military installations in the world. Maj. Nidal Hasan last year was convicted and sentenced to death for an attack in 2009 that killed 13 people and wounded 32 others.
Lopez bought the .45-caliber semi-automatic Smith and Wesson on March 1 at Guns Galore, the same Killeen, Texas, store where Hasan purchased the weapon he used in the 2009 shooting. Lopez has not been linked to any terrorist or extremist groups, and investigators do not believe he had a plan to target any of the victims, Milley and Chris Grey said Friday. Grey is spokesman for the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command.
Still, Carter said he believes Hasan “planted the seed” for the most recent shooting.
“The man who wears your uniform is your battle buddy. You’re supposed to be able to trust him,” Carter said, calling the shooting of soldiers by other soldiers “a punch in the kidneys” to all servicemembers.
Servicemembers “expect, and rightfully so, to be safe in their home and on this post,” Williams said.
“Wednesday’s shooting brought the danger and the risk of the combat zone right into Fort Hood.”
Carter and Williams are pushing a bill called the Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act, which would declare the 2009 shootings a terrorist attack and allow the servicemembers wounded or killed to be awarded the Purple Heart, and for the civilians wounded or killed to receive the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom.