Local News

From Fort Hood: Lessons for survivors of latest mass shooting

Posted February 16, 2018 2:35 p.m. EST
Updated February 16, 2018 7:13 p.m. EST

— Almost a decade after he survived a mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, Alonzo Lunsford believes his experience can help the Parkland, Fla., community heal.

Lunsford knows what it feels like to be targeted.

He was a staff sergeant in the Army in 2009 when Nidal Hasan opened fire at the post, killing 13 and wounding 32 others.

When the shooting started he ducked. When he stood up and turned around the laser from Hasan's gun was in his face.

"The laser went across my line of sight, and I blinked," Lunsford said. "He discharged the weapon. The first round went in here above my left eye, between my brain and my skull, and exited my left ear."

He knows what it's like to be left for dead.

The former Army Medic says Hasan went in and out of the building shooting other victims and returned twice to shoot him a total of seven times.

"When they were triaging me on the ground, he comes back outside again shoots me again," Lunsford said.

Fellow soldiers thought he was dead until he moved his hand.

As he lay there, he watched a close friend, Dr. Michael Cahill, lose his life.

"Our doc tried to hit him with a chair," Lunsford said. "He (Nadal) used a triple tap on him, and he killed him right in front of my face."

Hasan's deadly rampage ended when he was wounded, but Lunsford was loaded onto a helicopter next to the man who had just shot him.

“I'm going to deal with this for the rest of my life,” Lunsford told WRAL News five years after the attack.

In Parkland, families and friends are just starting down the road to recovery. On Wednesday, a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 and injuring at least a dozen others. Teachers and students were among the dead. Eight of the victims were girls and young women; nine were boys and men. They ranged from 14 years old to 49.

Lunsford believes his trauma, and similar experiences by other first responders, can help Parkland heal.

"I would say to any vets, law enforcement, EMS, firefighters or any military vets that are in the State of Florida that have lived the same scenario to reach out to these folks from (the) Parkland high school," he said.