FORT HOOD, Texas (CBS Houston/AP) – A Fort Hood solider who was on the base during the April 2 deadly shooting spree wrote an open letter to Congress detailing that military installations should not be gun-free zones.
First Lt. Patrick Cook of the 49th Transportation Battalion, Fort Hood, described that he was just waiting to die because he was unarmed.
“Something that could have put a stop to the bloodshed, could have made it merely an ‘ugly incident’ instead of the horrific massacre that I will surely remember as the darkest twenty minutes of my life,” Cook wrote. “Stripped of my God-given Right to arm myself, the only defensive posture I had left was to lie prostrate on the ground, and wait to die.”
Cook wrote the letter to encourage political leaders to change Fort Hood from being a gun-free zone so that soldiers can be armed in case of another incident. He explained that if he was armed, he could have possibly stopped “the bloodshed.”
Cook explained that he was trapped in an enclosed room with 14 other soldiers during the shooting spree.
“As the shooter kicked at the door, I remember telling myself, ‘Oh well, this is it.’ It is beneath human dignity to experience the utter helplessness I felt that day. I cannot abide the thought that anyone should ever feel that again,” Cook expressed in the letter.
One of the soldiers who was in the room trapped with Cook was fatally shot as he was barricading the door against the shooter, Army Spc. Ivan Lopez.
“Through what I can only describe as a miracle, he somehow found enough strength to continue pushing against that door until the shooter gave up and went elsewhere, at which time he collapsed,” Cook wrote in the letter. “Nearly a week later, I can still taste his blood in my mouth from when I and my comrades breathed into his lungs for 20 long minutes while we waited for a response from the authorities. This Soldier’s name was Sergeant First Class Daniel Ferguson, and his sacrifice loaned me the rest of my life to tell this story.”
Cook continued in the letter by stating that he knew another shooting could happen after the first incident at Fort Hood nearly five years ago because it’s status as a gun-free zone.
“I had been saying for five years that Fort Hood was a tinderbox of another massacre waiting to happen,” Cook wrote. “Worse yet, I know it will happen again. More will die, more will be wounded, more families will be torn apart, needlessly.”
He vividly described what his instincts were when the first shots were fired by Lopez. He reached for his belt to look for his gun, but realized it wasn’t there. In closing his letter, he explained that if they were allowed to have weapons at Fort Hood, Lopez could have been stopped easily.
“I am convinced that concealed weapons would have stopped it, but openly carried side-arms, like the ones carried in a law enforcement capacity, could have prevented it entirely,” Cook explained in the letter. “Instead, many more died because of the fatally misguided restrictions on the carrying of arms, which obviously the madman did not respect.”
Cook read his letter to the Texas Senate committee on the issue of Constitutional Carry.
Three people were killed and 16 others wounded in the shooting spree before Lopez killed himself authorities said.
During a news conference Monday, Army spokesman Chris Grey said the shootings at the Texas post followed an argument related to Lopez’s request for taking leave, but he didn’t indicate whether it was granted or describe circumstances behind the request.
A spokesman for Lopez’s family said last week that Lopez was upset he was granted only a 24-hour leave to attend his mother’s funeral in November. That leave was then extended to two days.
The shooting spree Wednesday ended when Lopez killed himself with his .45-caliber pistol after confronting a female military police officer, who Grey said fired once at Lopez but didn’t strike him.
Providing the most detail yet about the second mass shooting at Fort Hood in five years, Grey mapped out how Lopez opened fire in the building where the argument began before leaving and driving away, shooting at times from his car. The three who died were gunned down in separate locations.
Grey said Lopez first killed one soldier and wounded 10 others in the first building — the dead being one of the men Lopez had argued with moments earlier. Lopez then drove to a motor pool area where the Army truck driver was assigned and worked, killing another, Grey said.
The last place Lopez entered was a block away at a medical building, Grey said, walking inside and killing a soldier behind the desk.
“At this point we do not know why he entered that building, and we may never know why,” Grey said.
In all, investigators say Lopez fired more than 35 shots.
Authorities said 11 of 16 injured have returned to duty. Three soldiers who remain at nearby Scott & White Hospital, where the most critically injured were taken, were listed in fair condition Monday.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to attend a memorial service Wednesday at Fort Hood. Authorities said transportation arrangements for the three dead are being finalized for their funerals.
In another attack at the base in 2009, 13 people were killed by Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, who had said he was angry about being deployed to Afghanistan and wanted to protect Islamic and Taliban leaders from U.S. troops.
Lopez did a short stint in Iraq in 2011 and told medical personnel he had suffered a traumatic brain injury. The 34-year-old was undergoing treatment for depression and anxiety while being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder, base officials said. Fort Hood officials on Friday, however, said his mental condition was not a “direct participating factor” in the shooting.
Officials said Lopez did not see any combat in Iraq and had not previously demonstrated a risk of violence. He seemed to have a clean record and Grey said again Monday that Lopez showed no ties to potential terrorists.
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)