The Army psychiatrist accused in last year's Fort Hood, Texas, shootings faced off with the most severely injured survivor Thursday in a small military courtroom.
Maj. Nidal Hasan looked down as Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler described his four bullet wounds and how part of his brain had to be removed because of skull and bullet fragments.
Zeigler, using a cane, walked slowly to the witness stand at Fort Hood for the last testimony of the day in an evidentiary hearing, which is expected to last for weeks. Hasan is accused of being the gunman in the November 5 shootings that left 13 people dead and dozens wounded.
Zeigler testified he heard the gunman shout out "Allahu Akbar" just before the firing began.
"After I heard that, I pretty much froze up because I knew what that meant," said Zeigler about the phrase, which is Arabic for "God is great."
Other witnesses have identified Hasan as the gunman who shouted out in a crowd of soldiers and opened fire. The Army colonel overseeing the Article 32 hearing will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to a court martial with a possible penalty of death.
Zeigler said that moments before he was shot the first time, a beam - coming from the laser mounted on the handgun - crossed his vision.
"It felt like somebody hit me in the side of the head with a metal baseball bat," Zeigler said about the impact of the bullet.
Zeigler had just come back from his second deployment to Iraq and was bound for Officer Candidate School. His injuries from the Fort Hood shootings were so severe he was not expected to survive and was sometimes referred to as the 14th fatality.
His fiancee, Jessica Hansen, was in the courtroom as she has been at his side for 10 months of hospitalization, multiple operations and almost daily physical therapy.
"I basically knew I was in serious trouble," Zeigler said about the seconds after his shooting. "There was a pool of my own blood in front of me."
Zeigler was shot four times, in the right side of his head, left shoulder, left forearm and left hip. More than 18 percent of his brain was removed, he said. And he has fought back from partial paralysis.
Hasan remains partially paralyzed himself and is brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair. He was shot four times by police who rushed to the scene.
After Zeigler's testimony, people in the courtroom and journalists watching a video feed from a remote press room could hear the steady tap-tap of Zeigler's cane as he slowly made his way out.