HOUSTON — Kathy Platoni stood in a doctor’s office trying to hide her shaking from the other patients in the waiting room as she watched the news unfold about a shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.
Memories from a similar day nearly five years ago came flooding back, a day in 2009 when an Army psychiatrist opened fire at Fort Hood in Texas, killing 13 people, several of them Platoni’s friends.
“It’s surreal. I’m stunned to the bone. I mean here we are again,” Platoni said in a phone interview Monday.
Platoni, an Army reservist, still struggles with images of her friend, Capt. John Gaffaney, bleeding to death at her knees at Fort Hood. On Monday, she watched the reports of an attack at another military installation. This time, authorities say a former Navy man opened fire on office workers at the Washington Navy Yard. Thirteen people were killed, including the gunman.
“I was trying not to let the other patients in the waiting room see me shake, but I was shaken to the core,” said Platoni.
Platoni just last month had relived the Fort Hood shooting, as she sat through a weekslong military trial for Nidal Hassan. He was convicted and sentenced to death for the attack.
“The fact that this was on a military installation, it just hits way too close to home,” Platoni said. “To know what these poor individuals and families are going to go through, that’s the worst of it … and I wish I could be there to help.”
Keely Cahill, whose father, Michael Cahill, was shot and killed after he lifted a chair to try to stop the Fort Hood rampage, nearly broke down as she talked about Monday’s attack.
“This is exactly the same thing,” Cahill said, her voice cracking with emotion. “I know exactly what those families are feeling. They have no idea what’s going on. They just have to wait.”
Monday’s events brought back memories of the excruciating wait for information, the suffocating helplessness and the hope that kept them afloat during those hours.
“Then having it dashed was the worst thing,” Cahill said. “All I can think right now is that those families are sitting there wondering. Calling and sending texts. And waiting.”
Hasan’s bullets missed Howard Ray by just a few feet. His first thought Monday was that the attack in Washington could be retribution for Hasan’s guilty verdict and death sentence.
“It is one of those things that make you wonder, wonder why these individuals were targeted, and why so many?” Ray said.
Plushnick-Masti can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RamitMastiAP