Soldier from Va. Beach left Fort Hood shortly before mass shooting

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by Brian Farrell, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on April 2, 2014 at 11:46 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 3 at 5:20 AM

FORT HOOD, TEXAS -- "Get inside, you know. Get somewhere safe. Stay indoors," recalled Zack Herrell of messages blasting from post Wednesday.

Herrell is an Army specialist from Virginia Beach who arrived at Fort Hood in 2010, missing the mass shooting that took place in 2009.

Wednesday, Herrell left the installation early, missing the shooting that left four people dead.  As the post went into lockdown, so did his off-post apartment complex.

"You know, everybody's calling to check up, make sure everybody's okay," Herrell told 13News Now. "I have a pretty small group of friends, you know, and co-workers here, I guess, so I mean, I'm pretty confident that all of them are safe, and nobody I know is injured, but at the same time, you know, somebody knows them."

"Sobered, saddened by this," said  Rep.  Scott Rigell (R-2nd D.), "Just as a fellow American, to see these wonderful patriots at Fort Hood go through yet another very, very difficult time."

Rigell said in many ways the community still is "traumatized" from the mass shooting in 2009.

Given the shooting at Naval Station Norfolk March 24, when investigators say Jeffrey Savage of Portsmouth killed MA2 Mark Mayo before another sailor killed Savage, the deadly shooting at the Washington Navy Yard in the fall, Rigell stressed the need for review of many elements when it comes to safety at military installations.

"We owe it to our war fighters and those in our civilian workforce to support our war fighters, to really understand if there is a connecting thread to these, if there is a common cause of these tragedies, and to the extent that there is, to responsibly and really immediately identify those," Rigell said.

A statement from Capt. Kevin Whitlach, Public Affairs at Joint base Langley-Eustis, said, "All of our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the tragedy at Fort Hood. Joint Base Langley-Eustis has taken appropriate measures to insure base security. However, I can’t discuss what those actions are due to operational security concerns.”

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