Fire Weather Watch issued March 31 at 3:14AM MDT expiring April 1 at 7:00PM MDT in effect for: Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Crowley, El Paso, Huerfano, Las Animas, Otero, Pueblo, Rio Grande, Saguache
It was "Family Day" at Fort Hood and Thornton-native Whitney Pacheco was looking forward to her husband, Army Sgt. Curtis Jones, getting off work early to have fun with her and their toddler.But as she was dropping off lunch to Curtis, Thursday took a terrifying turn. His office was just blocks from the scene of a shooting that claimed 12 lives during an rogue Army officer's armed rampage."He came running out of the building real quick and he goes, 'We just got a report that there was a shooting. So hurry home, get our son from the babysitter and just stay safe,'" Pacheco, 23, told 7NEWS Thursday afternoon.She rushed back across the base to the town home of Megan Garcia, a classmate from Thornton who was watching Pacheco's 3-year-old son, Kyland, and her own children.Like others on the base, Curtis Jones remained on lockdown while military police ensured the threat had ended.Disaster sirens blared alerts to base residents."They were announcing, 'Seek shelter immediately. Stay inside. Turn off all the ventilation. Close your windows. Close your doors.' So that's what we did," she recounted.Inside, Pacheco and Megan Garcia hunkered down with two other women and their five young children. For security reasons, phone lines and cell phones signals were shut down. The women passed time watching CNN and Twittering on a computer to let family members know they were OK."For a long while there, it was impossible to get a call in or out," said Pacheco, who Twittered on a computer to update her mom in Aurora."Mom is a Twitter addict. I told her, 'Can you call dad and tell him I'm OK? Call my brother. Call the family, just let them know that everything's OK here,'" Pacheco said.As the tense hours wore on, Pacheco said the women watched medical helicopters airlifting the wounded to the nearby base hospital."There's definitely a lot of sirens going on," she said on the phone as ambulance sirens could be heard wailing in the background.But aside from the helicopters, she said it was "very eerily silent" on the world's largest military base."There is not a sound outside. There are no cars, no birds, no dogs, Nothing," Pacheco said."There's been a few moments, especially earlier in the day, when tensions were really high. All of us took turns almost losing it," she said. "So we had to give each other big hugs and say: 'Everything is going to be OK. We're all safe. We're going to be OK.' "Now, Pacheco hopes Fort Hood ends its "open post" policy. It allows visitors to enter the base by just flashing their identification -- without undergoing vehicle inspections -- several hours a day."I really am hoping that they start closing the base again, because we were feeling unsettled about that in the first place," she said. "We live on the largest military installation in the world and they're not controlling security."As the Army wives endured the long day, waiting for news, Pacheco and Megan Garcia talked about weird contradictions."It was upsetting," Pacheco said. "I was telling my girlfriend ... we got through (Thornton) high school" at a time when there were deadly school shootings in Colorado."So we come here and we think, 'Oh we're not dealing with school shootings anymore.' And then we're dealing with a shooting at our homes. It's a nerve-wracking feeling," she said.Pacheco, who met her husband while she lived in Thornton and he was at Fort Carson, said she as also thinking of the dangers her husband survived as a cavalry scout during two tours of Iraq and one in Afghanistan."It's weird," Pacheco said. "I looked at the ladies here and I was just like: 'For all the days that you wished your husband was home, right now I wish mine was in Iraq.'"