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Fort Hood shooting victims were heroic, dedicated

Apr. 4, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
A bit of good news after the Ft. Hood shooting tra...
A bit of good news after the Ft. Hood shooting tra...: Hosiptal officials say the victims of the mass shooting at Fort Hood are on a path to recovery but are not completely out of the woods yet.
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Facebook photo of Sgt. First Class Danny Ferguson, who was killed in the Fort Hood shooting rampage, and his fiance Kristen Haley, who says he was trying to block the gunman's path to a room packed with military personnel (Courtesy photo)
Timothy Owens was killed in the shootings at Fort Hood. (WZEF/WKJT)

As the nation mourns another shooting at a domestic military base, details on the heroes killed and injured emerge from Fort Hood.

Sgt. 1st Class Danny Ferguson had just returned from Afghanistan when Ivan Lopez, 34, opened fire on Fort Hood and killed three people before turning the gun on himself.

Ferguson died while trying to hold a door shut that would have led the gunman to a room packed with military personnel, his fiancée, Kristen Haley, also a soldier, told WTSP-TV.

A native of Mulberry, Fla., Ferguson graduated from Mulberry High School in Polk County in 1993. He played football, baseball and basketball and ran track. Mulberry High School teacher Joy Andrews told WTSP the multi-sport letterman was destined for greatness.

Sgt. Timothy Owens was shot in the chest and killed. Owens' cousin Glen Welton of Effingham, Ill., said Owens grew up with military dreams.

"He was one of those kids who wanted to wear camouflage and wanted to wear bomber jackets and sunglasses," said Welton, himself a National Guard veteran of Iraq.

Owens dropped out of high school in 1995, according to his mother, Mary Muntean, and school records. She said he earned his GED diploma after joining the Army in 2004.

Owens was one of four children. He had been previously married and had children from that marriage.

Carlos Lazaney, 38, of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, had planned to retire at the end of the year, the city's mayor told NBC News. Mayor Carlos Mendez Martinez said that he had spoken to an aunt of Lazaney's and that the family had been notified in Tampa, Fla.

"They are an excellent family, really good people," he said. "And what's so sad is that he was 38 years old and had joined the military since he was 18."

One of the 16 injured soldiers was identified by his wife as Sgt. Jonathan Westbrook of McComb, Miss., the Associated Press reported. Renee Powell Westbrook said her husband was recovering from wounds to the chest and neck.

Renee Westbrook said her husband was scheduled to leave May 20 for a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. "That has been put on hold, I'm assuming, because of this," she said.

He had left Wood Forest Bank in McComb for stability and a career change, she said. Sgt. Westbrook's parents live in Smithfield, Miss. He has two sisters, she said.

Maj. Patrick Miller, 32, an Iraq War veteran was also wounded, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday. Miller, who lives with his wife outside Austin, is a native of Allegany, N.Y. Cuomo said the shooting left Miller's home state "saddened and shocked."

Friends told WGRZ that Miller is expected to make a full recovery after the gunman shot him in the abdomen. While his wife attended to him in Texas, Miller's hometown buddies organized a prayer service at the Allegany Baptist Church on Thursday night.

At a trauma center outside the base, the conditions of three people critically injured in the attack had improved. Matthew Davis, trauma director at Scott and White Memorial Hospital, expressed optimism that nobody would die from their injuries.

Three people critically injured during this week's shooting spree at Fort Hood have been upgraded to fair condition while a fourth victim awaits discharge.

_____

Contributing: Associated Press

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