Second hero emerges in Fort Hood tragedy

Friday, November 13, 2009 - 9:02pm

UNDATED - Shortly after last week's Ft. Hood shooting massacre, Sgt. Kimberly Munley of the Killeen, TX, police department was widely credited as the heroic cop who brought Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's rampage to an end by shooting him four times while being wounded by gunfire herself. A Ft. Hood official told the media that the diminutive Munley, who was shot in both legs and one of her wrists, fired on Hasan twice, which then drew his attention to her, and then fired again while she was on the ground. But now it appears as though that account was inaccurate and that another Killeen police officer, Sgt. Mark Todd, was actually the person who fired the shots that brought down Hasan.

The widespread belief that Munley was the one who brought down Hasan, who survived but may be paralyzed according to his lawyer, began to unravel earlier in the week when an anonymous witness told the New York Times that he saw Todd, not Munley, bring down the Army psychiatrist as he attempted to reload his weapon. The witness said that Hasan shot Munley as she rounded a corner, knocking her to the ground. Hasan then turned his back to Munley as he attempted to put another magazine into his pistol, and it was then that Todd saw Hasan fumbling with the weapon and shot him, according to the witness.

Sgts. Munley and Todd, along with Ft. Hood officials, all declined to comment about the specifics of what happened , nor did Munley or Todd go into detail about them during a joint appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show. But Todd's wife, Lisa, told the paper that her husband had specifically requested that the Army leave his name out of any reports on the shooting, not wanting to draw media attention to himself as the sole hero of the day because "they were both in this together." Todd's mother, Mary, also weighed in, expressing dismay that the media was "giving this woman all this credit," adding "I don't want to diminish what she did, I just hope they give him credit too."

Though the official version of events won't be available until the military releases the results of its investigation, Todd told the New York Times in an interview Thursday that it was indeed he who fired the shots that brought down Hasan. He said that he and Munley both pulled up to the scene at the same time and, after receiving fire from Hasan when they ordered him to drop his weapon, each broke in different directions. After aborting an attempt to circle the building, Todd said he headed back to the front of the building where he saw Munley wounded on the ground. He said that he then ordered Hasan to drop his weapon a second time, which again prompted the gunman to fire upon him. It was at this point that Todd told the Times that he "neutralized him and secured him."

In the aftermath of the week-long confusion over who brought down Hasan, some are not holding back in criticizing the media and the military for their roles in the chaos — the media for not not digging deeper and thus performing their jobs properly, and the military for being too secretive. Some have even questioned whether or not there might have been a racial component involved with crediting a white woman over a black man as the day's hero. But this fact remains unchallenged: On November 5, 2009, Sgt. Kimberly Munley and Sgt. Mark Todd both risked their lives in the line of duty to try to stop an armed man in the midst a homicidal rampage, so shouldn't they both be hailed equally as heroes for doing so?