WASHINGTON, D.C. — Three members of the Minnesota congressional delegation were among those on hand at Fort Hood, Texas, today to mourn the loss of 13 people, including a soldier from St. Paul, killed in a shooting rampage last week on the Army base.
Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, is the suspect in the shootings at the Fort Hood Soldiers Readiness Processing Center, where soldiers receive their final medical checkups before deploying. Hasan, whose job was to counsel wounded veterans, was shot by police officers and is recovering from his gunshot wounds in a military hospital.
Among those who died in the attack was Pfc. Kham Xiong, 23, of St. Paul. Rep. Betty McCollum, his representative, and Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar joined many other members of Congress who flew to Texas for the memorial service.
Thirteen pairs of combat boots, rifles and helmets stood on stage in front of a podium where speakers, including President Obama, eulogized the fallen.
Obama mentioned each of the deceased by name during his 17-minute remarks, noting Xiong’s family ties to the military. His brother, Nelson Xiong, is a Marine stationed in Afghanistan, where Kham Xiong was scheduled to be deployed next month.
“Private First Class Kham Xiong came to America from Thailand as a small child. He was a husband and father who followed his brother into the military because his family had a strong history of service. He was preparing for his first deployment to Afghanistan.”
The president, concerned about a potential backlash against Muslims in the wake of the shooting, made sure to differentiate the suspect’s actions from his Islamic faith, saying that “no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor.”
“For what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice — in this world, and the next.”