The three men slain last week at Fort Hood after Spc. Ivan A. Lopez went on a shooting spree before killing himself were decorated soldiers who had served multiple tours of duty overseas.
One of the victims, Sgt. 1sr Class Daniel Michael Ferguson, 39, a transportation supervisor from Mulberry, Fla., died using his body to barricade a door to keep the gunman away, his fiancée, Kristen Haley, also a soldier, told Tampa’s WTSP-TV. Ferguson enlisted as a private in 1993 and served eight months in Afghanistan before returning to Fort Hood last year.
Previously, he had served twice in Kuwait and once in Iraq and earned a Bronze Star, the fourth-highest individual military award, given for acts of heroism, acts of merit or meritorious service in a combat zone.
“If he wasn’t the one standing there holding those doors closed, that shooter would have been able to get through and shoot everyone else,” Haley told the Tampa station.
Ferguson graduated in 1993 from Mulberry High School, about 35 miles east of Tampa. The school of 1,000 students held a moment of silence for him Friday, Assistant Principal Lori Leverett said. Kimberly Bowling, now an English teacher at the school, graduated in Ferguson’s class. “He was very polite, very respectful and easygoing. He was one of the good guys,” Bowling said.
Haley and Ferguson shared a home in Killeen, Texas, near the Army post. Neighbor Christina Morton said Ferguson was “a good person” who often came to the neighborhood parties. She remembered how he and his fiancée would come outside and play in the street with her children.
“It’s just upsetting,” said Morton.
Staff Sgt. Carlos Alberto Lazaney-Rodriguez, 38, from the seaside town of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, was a unit supply sergeant for the 1st Medical Brigade. He had been planning to retire soon after completing 20 years of service, his hometown’s mayor, Carlos Méndez Martínez, told CNN en Español.
Lazaney-Rodriguez came from “a very good family” that values military service, added the mayor of the city of 65,000 people about 50 miles from Ivan Lopez’s hometown of Guayanilla. Martinez said Lazaney-Rodriguez enlisted in the Army right after high school, following the path of his father and one of his brothers. “These are military people, these are people who believe in the United States,” he said.
Lazaney-Rodriguez, who enlisted in 1994, was deployed to Kuwait in December 1998 for four months and to Iraq in April 2007 and July 2009 for yearlong tours. During his last tour in Iraq, from July 2009 to July 2010, he was part of a police platoon responsible for making sure U.S. forces could travel safely and training Iraqi police forces. His awards included four Army Commendation Medals and three Army Achievement Medals.
He was planning to retire from the Army in December, Martinez said.
“We’re very sad, the whole town is very sad,” said Martinez, who also served in the Army and spent two years at Fort Hood before returning to Puerto Rico and becoming Aguadilla’s mayor. He said Lazaney-Rodriguez’s father and brothers live in Florida.
Sgt. Timothy Wayne Owens, 37, of Effingham, Ill., was shot in the chest at close range, his mother-in-law, Darlene Humphrey, told the Chicago Sun-Times. In August, he wed her daughter, Billy, a high-school friend, after they reunited last year. Owens, a counselor at Fort Hood, served a year in Iraq in 2005 and Kuwait in 2010.
He had been previously married and had a daughter from that marriage, The Washington Post reported.
He served in Iraq in 2005 and in Kuwait in 2010 as a heavy-vehicle driver, the Army said. His awards include three Army Commendation Medals and four Army Achievement Medals.
“He had grown into a man. The military had made him a complete man,” cousin Betty Goodwin said. “I sure know he cleaned up pretty with his uniform.”
His mother, Mary Muntean, had recently reunited with the daughter she gave up for a adoption at birth 54 years ago, and the siblings were preparing to meet each other, relatives told The Associated Press.
“She finds one child and loses another,” said Betty Goodwin, Owens’ cousin.