- (Photo: AP Images / LM Otero)
There has been an outpouring of prayers across the nation in the aftermath of the deadly rampage that claimed the lives of 13 and left 30 wounded at the Army post in Fort Hood, Texas.
“I am deeply saddened by the tragedy that befell Americans residing at Fort Hood," commented Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
"My prayers are with the survivors and families, friends, and colleagues of the victims of yesterday’s shootings,” the evangelist added in a statement Friday. “I am thankful for the citizens that will surround them with compassion and support in the midst of such anguish.”
On Thursday, Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at the Fort Hood Army post, killing 12 before he, himself, was shot four times by two civilian police officers. Though Hasan was initially reported as having died, later reports revealed that he had been hospitalized and remains unconscious and on a ventilator.
The 39-year-old from Virginia, who was reportedly struggling with a pending deployment to Afghanistan, is expected to live.
President Obama, who will attend a memorial service Tuesday honoring victims of the Ford Hood shootings, said that while "we saw the worst of human nature on full display [Thursday], we also saw the best of America."
"We saw soldiers and civilians alike rushing to aid fallen comrades, tearing off bullet-riddled clothes to treat the injured, using blouses as tourniquets, taking down the shooter even as they bore wounds themselves," Obama said in his radio and Internet address Saturday.
"We saw soldiers bringing to bear on our own soil the skills they had been trained to use abroad – skills that been honed through years of determined effort for one purpose and one purpose only: to protect and defend the United States of America," he added.
Since the shooting, chaplains on the base have been ministering to the victims’ loved ones and the almost 42,000 troops and their family members stationed there. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which has four chaplains at Fort Hood, has been rallying prayers for them as well for the families and friends of the victims.
"We pray God’s blessing on the effectiveness of the chaplains’ ministry of consolation and assurance and on the outreach of all other caregivers involved," stated LCMS President Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick.
On Friday, several hundred people gathered at a base stadium where the Army's chief chaplain offered prayers for families and victims of the shooting rampage.
Col. Michael T. Lembke, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) chaplain serving at Fort Hood, said some 450 attended.
"We wanted to bring the community together and offer words of condolence," Lembke told his denomination's news service.
Thursday’s mass shooting was the worst ever at a military base in the United States and took place less than a week before Veterans Day.
The rampage was followed the next day by another shooting – this time by a 40-year-old man who killed one and wounded five after opening fire at his former office in Orlando.
Like Hasan, Jason Rodriguez was taken alive and has been charged with first-degree murder and other crimes.
Police said Rodriguez offered words of remorse as he was handcuffed Friday, saying he was just going through a tough time.
His attorney has described him as "very, very mentally ill" but offered no specifics.