Fort Hood shooting victim returns home near Charlotte - | WBTV Charlotte

Fort Hood shooting victim returns home near Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

A soldier from the Charlotte area survived the 2009 massacre at Fort Hood, and for the first time, he's opening up only to WBTV about what happened, just feet away from the shooter.

Sergeant Matthew Cooke, 34, opened up after a judge sentenced Nidal Hasan to death for the shooting that killed 13 people and wounded 32 others.

Cooke served his country in Iraq twice, and was preparing for another deployment when shots rang out inside the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009.

"Not many know what I've been through," Cooke said.

Cooke says he just happened to be inside the building to collect a $50 gift card for donating blood. He was standing just a few feet away from Hasan, when chaos erupted.

"All of a sudden, out of nowhere I just hear Allah, and he (Hasan) started shooting," Cooke said.

Cooke says one of his best friends, Private First Class Kham See Xiong died in front of him. Hasan shot Cooke five times. He still has a bullet inside his head, and since the shooting, Cooke says he's been getting help both physically and mentally. 

"I had to go see a PTSD counselor. I had to go to anger management," he said.

Cooke says he never went back to the scene of the crime, but he did face Hasan one last time, just a few weeks ago in court. Hasan represented himself.

"When I went to the trial and testified, he looked more diminished," Cooke said.

A judge sentenced Hasan to death, but Cooke says his whole life is ahead of him, and he's glad to be home in North Carolina.

"God saved me that day for a purpose and someday I'll figure out what that is," he said.

Cooke said he still keeps in touch with many of the survivors and plans to head back to Texas when the November 5, 2009 memorial opens. Cooke says he won't officially retire from the U.S. Army until October 9th. He gave over a decade of service to his country.

Copyright 2013 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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