Fort Hood tragedy brings back painful memories for Louisville mother

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by Rachel Nix

WHAS11.com

Posted on November 8, 2009 at 4:56 PM

Thursday's shootings at Fort Hood, where 13 people were killed, are bringing back painful memories for one Louisville woman.

It was only 6 months ago that Renee Richardson’s son was shot to death at another Texas military post when a military policeman opened fire.

April 24, 2009 is a day burned into the memory of Renee Richardson. It's the day her son, Gerald Smith, was gunned down on his way to high school just steps from their home inside Fort Bliss, Texas.

"You just don't expect anything like that to happen on a military installation, a place that's supposed to be secure for families," said Richardson.

Police say 37-year-old military policeman Gerald Polanco left his home in a complex of military housing and opened fire. A soldier was wounded and 18-year-old Gerald was killed.

When news broke this week of a similar shooting at Fort Hood, those memories came flooding back.

The Richardsons are a military family spending 20 years on several posts across the country before her husband retired this year.

Their plan was to return to Kentucky to be close to family and closer to Kentucky State where gerald had been accepted to college. They did move to Kentucky but without their son.

The military is calling the Ft. Hood incident tragic and isolated. 25 people have been killed by soldiers on us military installations since 2003.

“To me, I think a lot more needs to be done to help these soldiers, especially those who are coming back from serving in Iraq,” said Richardson.

Gerald Polanco, who is facing murder charges in that shooting at Fort Bliss, is being held at a military hospital in North Carolina.

He will be evaluated in January to determine whether he will be found mentally competent to stand trial.

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