Churchgoers near Fort Hood seek solace

The wife of a serviceman prayed at a church near Fort Hood on Sunday for people affected by the shooting at the base.
Tamir Kalifa/Associated Press
The wife of a serviceman prayed at a church near Fort Hood on Sunday for people affected by the shooting at the base.

KILLEEN, Texas — The church program pictured an empty road being enveloped by the dark clouds of a sweeping thunderstorm, and the service’s lesson was from Isaiah 35:4, ‘‘Be strong, fear not.’’

The preacher told those gathered Sunday that they would find hope in God, but also acknowledged the question on everyone’s mind: Why Fort Hood — again?

What would have been a routine Sunday service at Tabernacle Baptist Church just outside the sprawling Texas military base became a tribute to the soldiers killed four days earlier when a fellow service member opened fire. It also offered some catharsis for the community that is struggling to comprehend Fort Hood’s second fatal shooting rampage in less than five years.


Similar somber religious gatherings were held throughout the military town of Killeen, but there were more questions than answers.

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‘‘A lot of us, I think this morning, are asking the question, ‘Why? Why would this happen? Why Fort Hood again? Why are these types of things allowed to happen?’ ’’ pastor Robert Sperbeck told dozens gathered at Tabernacle, where 90 percent of the congregation are current or retired military personnel. ‘‘The devil is the author of what happened on Wednesday, but we do know the answer, we know there is hope.’’

Investigators say Specialist Ivan Lopez, an Army truck driver from Puerto Rico, had argued with soldiers in his unit moments before killing three people and wounding 16 others and then fatally shooting himself.

Base officials have said Lopez, who saw no combat during a deployment to Iraq, was being treated for depression and anxiety while being assessed for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The shooting revived memories of the November 2009 attack by Nidal Hassan, an Army psychiatrist who killed 13 and wounded more than 30 people at the base.

Associated Press