Web Exclusive: Unlike the hearing Tuesday, the second day of the Article 32 hearing started at 9 a.m. sharp.
We showed up to Fort Hood Wednesday not really knowing what the day would hold.
At Tuesday's hearing the defense requested the hearing be delayed until November 8. Investigating Officer James Pohl gave the defense until midnight to file a brief for the continuance, which he would rule on Wednesday morning.
On this day I was one of the pool reporters to be inside the courtroom. Four minutes after the hearing reconvened, Pohl denied the defense’s request, and the first witness took the stand.
Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford
Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford
The first witness to take the stand nearly needed to duck his head as he entered the courtroom. At 6 feet, 9 inches tall, Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford towered over the rest of the world.
Sgt. Lunsford worked at the Soldier Readiness Processing site. On the stand, he said the day of the shooting started off like any other.
He said about a month prior to the shooting, he had met Maj. Nidal Hasan because he also worked in the medical field.
According to Lunsford, he interacted with Hasan when a patient needed to be transferred to the psychiatric ward. Hasan, who worked as an Army psychiatrist, happened to be working at the ward that day.
Lunsford didn’t know that he and Hasan would cross paths again.
On November 5, Lunsford said they were preparing for a busy day at the SRP. So busy, he said he had to take his lunch in the break room.
According to Lunsford, he saw Hasan earlier that day as he tried to go through processing at the site in preparation for an upcoming deployment.
Lunsford said he saw Hasan walk up from one of the processing stations, where he had been waiting, and walked to a civilian employee and said something to her. He said that's when the employee got up and walked away.
Lunsford said he heard Hasan yell "Allah Akbar," and as he looked at him, Hasan reached under his ACU and pulled out a weapon.
A weapon Lunsford said had a laser sight and infrared beam, which he shot towards an area where 45 soldiers had been sitting and waiting.
According to Lunsford, he went to crouch down behind the check-in counter.
At that point Lunsford said he saw "Doc" Cahill, or Michael Cahill, come out of his cubicle, with a chair raised above his head in a throwing motion.
That is when Lunsford said Hasan turned his weapon on Cahill and shot him.
Cahill was the sole civilian employee killed in the shooting.
While shots were going off all round him, Lunsford said he went into "escape and evade" mode.
As he looked for a way out, he said he made eye contact with Hasan. At that point, he saw the laser coming in and out of his sight.
He closed his eyes, but it was too late as Lunsford took a bullet to the head, in an area right above his left eye.
He fell to the ground and the left side of his head on the floor. He then described the pool of blood which started to form.
When Lunsford was asked to point out the man who shot him, Lunsford stood up and motioned towards Hasan.
While on the stand, Lunsford turned to look at Hasan several times, however, Hasan didn’t show much of a reaction.
Lunsford said he eventually made it out of the building, but not before he was shot five times.
He said he had to go through reconstructive surgery on the left side of his face as a result of getting shot in the head. His injuries also permanently impacted his vision in his left eye.
Michelle Harper was a civilian contractor employed at the SRP site, working in the lab. She started work at 8:30 a.m. that day.
After lunch, Harper said she was talking to a friend when she heard what sounded like firecrackers, and began seeing smoke when she heard others yelling to “get down.”
Harper said she hid under a desk, as steady round of shots were fired all around her.
Unlike Lunsford, Harper did not look even in the direction of Hasan.
Even though she was obviously shaken by recounting what was happening around her. A six-minute tape of a 911 call she made that day brought her to tears.
The courtroom listened to her frantic call for help, as you can hear shots being fired in the background, and a moaning sound from a soldier who had been shot.
Harper escaped without being shot. She said she finally got away by running out and driving away, but before she was able to leave, Harper testified she saw Hasan outside and witnessed him shooting military police officer Sgt. Kimberly Munley.
Latoya Williams was a data entry clerk. She said she had just returned from lunch and was logging on her work station when someone with the rank of a major came to the desk and bent down to tell her the officer in charge wanted to see her.
She said as she walked towards the office and away from the major, and heard what sounded like fire crackers.
She identified Hasan as the major who approached her, although the defense questioned her ability to identify the person.
According to Williams, she did not see Hasan actually shooting.
Spc. Amber Bahr
Spc. Amber Bahr said she was at the SRP site to be cleared for an upcoming deployment.
She said while sitting and waiting, she noticed a major with medical tags who sat behind her.
Bahr testified that he yelled an Arabic phrase, and she heard shots being fired.
She described the scene as "absolute chaos," with blood everywhere and people throwing chairs in an attempt to stop the shooter.
When she sought cover, Bahr said she saw two injured soldiers.
As she made it outside the building, she dragged the injured soldiers into the back of a pickup truck.
From there, she said they headed to Darnell Army Medical Center. She said it was not until she attempted to sit down at the hospital, that she felt a sharp pain in her back.
According to Bahr, a fellow soldier looked at her back, and that is when she realized she had been shot in the left lower back.
Spc. Matthew Cooke
Spc. Matthew Cooke was in the SRP also preparing for a deployment to Afghanistan.
When the shooting started, Cooke said he thought it was a training exercise.
However, once he realized it was not a drill, he ducked for cover and saw Sgt. Howard who had been shot.
He said he was able to get out of the building, and got into the back of the same pickup truck as Bahr.
When he got into the truck, he realized he had been shot four times, with a bullet grazing his head.
Pfc. George Stratton
Pfc George Stratton was at the SRP site to make sure all of his shots were caught up prior to his deployment.
He described round after round of gunshots going off, as he hit the ground.
He said he looked behind him and saw Hasan holding an older fashion weapon.
According to Stratton, he made eye contact with Hasan. He described Hasan as having a "piercing gaze" as he reloaded his gun.
When he reloaded, Stratton said he was shot in his left shoulder, which immediately went limp.
Stratton testified that he crawled out of the building.
Staff Sgt. Retired Alvin Howard
Retired SSGT. Alvin Howard said he was at the SRP site to make sure his soldiers were processed in preparation for the deployment to Afghanistan in December.
He said he was playing a game on a laptop by the check-in table when he heard yelling and shots being fired.
According to Howard, he thought it was a drill until a bullet casing landed on his laptop.
When he turned around to see what was going on, he said he was shot.
Howard was shot in the left shoulder and said he crawled out of the building.
"I'll never forget his face, he's right over there," Howard said as he stood up and pointed at Hasan.
Spc. James Armstrong
Reservist Spc. James Armstrong was at the SRP building after he was mobilized. He said he had only arrived at Fort Hood the day before.
Armstrong said he was among those sitting and waiting in one of the 45 chairs.
He said all of a sudden he heard "Akbar" and looked over to his left, and that is when gunfire started.
When he went to take a step, he said he fell to the floor where he rolled over and noticed a hole in his pants.
That’s when he realized he had been shot.
Armstrong said the shooter sustained the rate of gunfire.
Testimony ended before 5 p.m. Wednesday. The hearing on Thursday is scheduled to start at 9 a.m.