KILLEEN, Texas — Kimberly Munley was a worried mother who fretted over swine flu, praying that the H1N1 virus would skip her young daughter. She was a polite neighbor, waving to fellow residents in a development of tidy lawns here on the outskirts of town.
But on Friday, Munley was hailed as a hero for helping end the rampage that left 13 dead at Fort Hood, the sprawling Army post where she works as a civilian police officer.
Officials identified her as the officer who confronted the alleged gunman, Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, and was wounded in an exchange of gunfire.
Munley, 34, who had been taking her patrol car in for maintenance, was the first armed police officer to arrive at the readiness center at Fort Hood. For the first few minutes, she was the only person other than Hasan who had a gun.
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The details of what happened are still unclear. Munley's supervisor said she and Hasan shot each other at nearly the same moment. Another officer at the scene recalled that Hasan paused to reload his pistols just seconds after unloading his weapon into Munley.
"He's reloading! He's reloading!" screamed a soldier hiding behind a vehicle.
As Hasan fumbled with the magazines, another police officer, who had arrived on the scene just minutes after Munley, fired his weapon and felled Hasan, said the soldier, who was crouching in the parking lot.
Within moments of the fire, Munley and Hasan lay on the ground near each other bleeding badly. Hasan's pistols and several magazines of ammunition lay splayed near his body. A soldier rushed up to Munley and fashioned his belt into a tourniquet to stem the bleeding from Munley's thigh before an ambulance ferried her to the base hospital.
Munley remained hospitalized Friday.
Her actions made her a hero to colleagues and strangers alike, as military leaders, neighbors and others praised her role in bringing an end to the tragedy.
"She probably saved a lot of lives with her actions," said Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army's chief of staff.
"She walked up and engaged him," said Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, commanding officer at Fort Hood. "It was an amazing and an aggressive performance by this police officer."
Cone called Munley "one of our most impressive young police officers," and said she responded to the shooting rampage just as she was trained to do.
"If you act aggressively to take out a shooter, you will have less fatalities," Cone said.
No one answered the door Friday at Munley's residence, in an area that is home primarily to current or former service members. Neighbors say Munley lives with her husband, who serves in the Army and was traveling when the shootings occurred, and two daughters, Hope and Jayden.
Neighbor Brooke Beato said she wasn't surprised to learn of Munley's heroic actions. "There should be a parade for her all the way to her front door," Beato said. "There could have been a lot more lives lost. It could have been someone else there first, someone not as well trained, not as brave."
Another resident, Amanda Maben, had a similar reaction: "She's a hero, and she's my neighbor," she said.
More than a dozen Facebook networking groups sprouted Friday in support of Munley. One of them —"Sgt. Kimberly Munley: A Real American Hero!" —had more than 5,000 members by 8 o'clock last night.
"We can all leave her messages of gratitude along with 'get well' wishes on this page. Let us keep her as well as all those involved in our prayers!" the group's administrators wrote.
Munley has an account with another social-networking service, Twitter. In one posting, she described herself as "an OCD mom" and wrote that she hoped the H1N1 virus "stays FAR away from Jayden!!!"
In a photo of Munley on her Twitter page, she stands in uniform beside country music star Dierks Bentley, who appeared at a Fourth of July event at Fort Hood. Bentley wrote on his own page Friday: "I want a meet and greet with her now."