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Social worker thought Fort Hood shooting was exercise

Posted at 1:15 AM, Aug 13, 2013

(CNN) — An Army social worker who was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan in 2009 told a military court Monday that she thought the shooting at Fort Hood was a training exercise. She comforted a soldier who later died, she said.

Capt. Dorothy Ellen Carskadon was in the Soldier Readiness Processing Center for a final checkup on November 5 that year when admitted gunman Maj. Nidal Hasan began shooting. She dropped to the ground, she said at Hasan’s court-martial.

Hasan is accused of killing 13 people and wounding 32 others in the shooting rampage at the Army post near Killeen, Texas.

Carskadon said she heard Pvt. Francheska Velez screaming “my baby, my baby” as she cradled her stomach. She crawled to Velez and tried to comfort her, telling the private that it would be OK and that the training exercise would end soon. Velez died in the attack.

Carskadon noticed blood dripping from her own head and tried to stand, but her leg went numb. As she fell, she was shot in the stomach. She collapsed and thought to herself, “I’m through with this field exercise and I chose not to move anymore.”

She awoke in a hospital intensive care unit with four gunshot wounds: one that grazed her head; another through her right hip; a third lodged in her right leg; and a fourth in the abdomen.

Also Monday, a nurse relived the chaos as she hid from Hasan and called 911.

Shanika Hairston choked back tears as prosecutors introduced the 911 call she made as gunshots rang out while she administered immunizations to soldiers who were about to be deployed. The 911 operator was periodically drowned out by gunfire and screams.

After the recording finished, Hairston described seeing a man shot to death in front of her.

“Solider behind me stood up, his eyes got real wide, and then he fell,” she said.

Hairston maintained her composure throughout her testimony and was excused by the court. As she exited the courtroom, loud sobs could be heard through the heavy wooden doors.

At the beginning of the day, Hasan excused a member of his defense team from the proceedings, saying that Maj. Christopher Martin needed to do an unspecified task on his behalf.

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