ROLLA, Mo. — Mourners gathered in Rolla, Missouri, on Saturday for the funeral of one of three U.S. soldiers killed in a shooting rampage at the Fort Hood Army base earlier this month.
Friends and family of Iraq war veteran Timothy Owens, 37, a native of Effingham, Ill., attended a private service at First Baptist Church.
Outside the church, several dozen motorcyclists, many of them veterans, prepared to escort the hearse to the cemetery.
Veteran Frank Reinhart said the mission of the Patriot Guard Riders was to ensure dignity at memorial services for fallen military, something his generation missed after returning from the Vietnam War.
“You go through little towns and see people with their hands over their hearts, it’s very moving,” Reinhart said, adding that the group aims “to see that the family gets support and a little bit of honor.”
Two other soldiers died in the attack this month — Daniel Ferguson, 39, of Mulberry, Fla., and Carlos Lazaney Rodriguez, 38, of Puerto Rico. Their funerals will be held on Monday in Florida.
Sixteen people were wounded in the shooting spree before the suspect, Army Specialist Ivan Lopez, 34, killed himself, authorities said. They believe an argument over leave may have set off the incident, the second mass shooting at the Texas Army base in five years.
Thirteen people, soldiers as well as civilians, were killed at Fort Hood in 2009 by Major Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, who has since been convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
President Barack Obama earlier this week spoke at a memorial service held at the base for the three slain soldiers.
“Part of what makes this so painful is that we’ve been here before,” Obama said. “This tragedy tears at wounds still raw from five years ago.”