The recent shooting at Fort Hood shocked those living in the community and U.S. military around the world. For many students, the general sense of disbelief was overshadowed by fear as they awaited news of family members’ safety.
Leah Payne, senior advertising and public relations major from Belton, learned of the shooting at about 1:30 p.m. Her mother works as the special education curriculum director for Killeen ISD, and she spends one day a week at the Meadows and Venable Village elementary schools on base.
“I was getting text messages, and it never crossed my mind that was the day she would be on base,” Payne said.
When she turned on the television and saw the neShoSws coverage, it hit her. Payne immediately called her mother back. As soon as she entered the base, she heard announcements ordering everyone to seek shelter in the nearest room with no windows.
“She didn’t tell me at first; she didn’t want to scare me,” Payne said. “They didn’t know where they were in relation to what was happening.”
Fort Hood authorities allowed traffic to leave the base at about 8:30 p.m., after Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was incapacitated and taken into custody.
Brian Escochea, ’09 graduate from San Antonio, was text-messaging his uncle, an Army sergeant who has been stationed at Fort Hood for 17 years, at the time of the shooting.
“Later on, after I talked to him, I found out there was a shooting,” Escochea said. “I texted him back, and he didn’t respond.”
His uncle returned this month from a yearlong tour in Iraq and was on leave. Escochea was not worried, because he knew the unlikelihood his uncle would be on base. His uncle texted him back the next day, apologizing for not being able to respond but did not mention the incident.
“He didn’t seem to be phased or anything,” Escochea said. “He’s a pretty relaxed guy. He’s been in for 17 years. He’s seen a lot.”
Alyssia Ambrose, junior interdisciplinary elementary education major from Killeen, received an unexpected phone call between 5 and 6 p.m. on her way home from student teaching.
“My sister called me, frantically saying that I needed to get a hold of my dad,” Ambrose said.
Her father’s job requires him to make frequent deliveries to the base, but Ambrose was able to relax when he answered her phone call. Her aunt and a cousin work on base as civilians, and Ambrose did not learn of their safety until that evening.
Grant Boston, senior English major from Belton, knew his parents were in Killeen when he heard about the shooting, but he did not hear from them until late that afternoon. Boston later learned his father once hired attorney John Galligan to prepare a defense against the threat of losing some land he owned. Galligan was recently announced as the acting attorney for Hasan.