FORT HOOD, Texas – A pregnant soldier shot during a rampage at a Texas Army post last year cried out, "My baby! My baby!" as others crawled under desks, dodged bullets that pierced walls and rushed to help their bleeding comrades, a military court heard Monday.
A soldier had just told Spc. Jonathan Sims that she was expecting a baby and was preparing to go home, when the first volley of gunfire rang out Nov. 5 in a Fort Hood building where soldiers get medical tests before and after deploying.
"The female soldier that was sitting next to me was in the fetal position. She was screaming: 'My baby! My baby!'" Sims said.
Pvt. Francheska Velez, a 21-year-old from Chicago, had become pregnant while serving in Iraq. She was among the 13 killed in the worst mass shooting on an American military base.
Sims was one of 10 soldiers to testify Monday at an Article 32 hearing that will determine whether Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan will stand trial on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.
Spc. Dayna Roscoe testified she was in an overflow waiting area in the medical building when the gunman shot her in the left arm as she hid in a chair with her arms wrapped around her head. He turned away, fired in another direction and then came back and shot her twice more, hitting her leg.
When the gunman left, Roscoe said, she could hear another soldier, Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, "say she'd been shot in the abdomen and was bleeding. She wanted someone to tell her family that she loved them and that she wasn't going to make it."
Warman, 55, a military physician assistant from Havre De Grace, Md., also died that day.
Pfc. Justin Johnson said he started crawling toward a cubicle and others dove to the ground when the gunfire erupted.
"He was aiming his weapon on the ground and he started shooting, and he was hitting people that were trying to get away," Johnson testified by video link from Kandahar in Afghanistan. "It didn't seem like he was targeting a specific person, sir. He was just shooting at anybody."
None of the witnesses Monday were asked to identify Hasan in court as the shooter. Several witnesses testified last week that they made eye contact with Hasan and identified him as the Fort Hood gunman.
Witnesses last week and Monday told similar stories of how a man in an Army combat uniform stood by a front counter, shouted "Allahu Akbar!" — "God is great!" in Arabic — and started shooting.
Many startled soldiers thought it was a training exercise. Sgt. 1st Class Miguel Valdivia said he continued thinking it was a drill, even after he saw soldiers fall to the floor, until he was shot three times.
"When I saw my own blood, then I realized it was real," Valdivia said.
During cross-examination, Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, a defense attorney, asked Valdivia if he initially told investigators that the gunman had "a blank expression on his face, almost like he was not there."
Valdivia said he meant that the shooter's expression was similar to how "a drill sergeant looked at me at boot camp."
Upcoming witnesses are expected to include the two Fort Hood police officers credited with taking the gunman down. Hasan, 40, who was paralyzed from the chest down after being shot, remains jailed.
At some point after the hearing, Col. James L. Pohl, the investigating officer in the case, will recommend whether Hasan should go to trial. That decision — and whether the Army will seek the death penalty — ultimately will be made by the commanding general.