Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pentagon: Wounded Recruiting Office Shooting Victim Praises Army for Support

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2009 -- A soldier wounded last week during an attack at a recruiting office in Little Rock, Ark., that claimed a fellow soldier’s life expressed no bitterness today at his attacker, and said the incident has done nothing to dampen his desire to serve in the Army.

Army Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula, 18, spoke publicly about the incident for the first time since he was gunned down outside an Army recruiting office June 1. He is recovering from gunshot wounds to his neck, back and buttocks.

Army Pvt. William Long, 23, was killed in the attack. He was buried yesterday at Camp Robinson, Ark.

Abdulhakim Muhammad, the alleged shooter, was arrested shortly after the attack. He faces charges of capital murder and committing a terroristic act.

President Barack Obama released a statement shortly after the incident. "I am deeply saddened by this senseless act of violence against two brave young soldiers who were doing their part to strengthen our armed forces and keep our country safe,” he said. “I would like to wish Quinton Ezeagwula a speedy recovery, and to offer my condolences and prayers to William Long's family as they mourn the loss of their son."

Asked by a reporter today about his recovery, the understated Ezeagwula stated simply, “I’m doing fine, sir.”
Ezeaguwula said he joined the military because he “wanted to be able to help my family out,” and thought the Army sounded like a good way to do so.

“I actually learned to love the Army,” he told reporters today.

Ezeaguwula expressed thanks about the Army’s support since the incident. “I really appreciate what they have done for my family and for Private Long’s family,” he said.

His mother, who joined him at the news conference, echoed her son’s thanks and said the experience reaffirmed her confidence that the Army will look out for him.

“I really would like to commend the Army for everything they have done for us,” said his mother, who was not identified by name. She said the support Army caregivers have provided her son makes her feel “very secure about my son being in their care.”

“I couldn’t ask for a better person than God himself,” she said. The soldier’s mother added that she’s happy her son wants to continue his Army service.

“I feel very good about him staying in the Army and wanting to represent the United States,” she said. “I think that’s a wonderful thing.”

She said she hopes the incident sends a message that the United States “is going to step up to the plate and take whatever necessary steps need to be taken to protect Americans.”

“You just can’t [launch an attack] like that and think it’s OK,” she said.

Still, she said, she harbors “no ill feelings” toward her son’s attacker.

“I just pray that justice be served,” she said, adding that she hopes the outcome will “be fair.”

Ezeagwula and Long recently completed basic training and infantry training and were serving a temporary recruiting assignment before moving on to their first assignments. Once he recovers, Ezeagwula will continue to his assignment at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

The White House has not published an official statement regarding the incident other than one made available upon request by the press.

(From a report by Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service.)

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