KILLEEN, Texas — They started lowering the flags to half-staff here before the Army had even finished counting the dead.
Home to Fort Hood, Killeen is a tough Texas town, and soldiers and civilians here expressed all the emotions felt by the rest of the country — shock, sadness, anger — but more so. It was raw, and it was personal.
Inside the cozy, dark and smoky American Legion Post 573, Richard Beach was sipping an afternoon beer Friday when he said, 'We all have a lot of anger. Anger because the base is supposed to be the safe zone, you know, and here is a guy, a doctor and he shoots our people?'
Out on the Veteran's Highway at the edge of town there's a row of honky tonks and strip clubs. At a place called Wild Times, across the highway from the Booze Box, the management put up a sign urging passers-by to pray for the victims and their families.
In Killeen, with its strip malls of pawn shops, fast-food outlets and gun stores, locals live for the soldiers paydays on the 1st and 15th of the month.
Some said they were surprised something like this hadn't happened sooner, as the soldiers show the strain of multiple deployments to dangerous countries where they are not much liked.
'Just after the shooting, that's what the soldiers were saying, how we all have just been waiting for somebody to snap. It's not that big of surprise is it?' said Adam Davis, who owns Zombie Ink Tattoos near Fort Hood.