The sister of a retired Army sergeant and Ronkonkoma native who was shot dead Sunday at a Labor Day weekend barbecue at Fort Hood, Texas, said because the alleged shooter was a married father of three young children, the killing was a multiple tragedy.
She said her brother, Ryan Dickinson, 26, a former sergeant who retired for medical reasons, married his college sweetheart and lived just north of Austin with his two children, ages 5 and 6.
"Two families lost their fathers," Kate Dickinson, 30, of Farmingville, said Wednesday. "It's a real tragedy all around."
A Fort Hood spokesman said the alleged shooter, Sgt. Brett Wessel, 26, could be formally charged by Army authorities as early as Friday. He said Army investigators would not shed light on the events surrounding the shooting.
"We are not releasing any further details of the investigation at this time to protect the integrity of the ongoing case," Chris Grey, chief of public affairs for the Army's Criminal Investigation Command, said in an email. Army officials describe Wessel as "a 26-year-old married male." Wednesday a man by that name and age, who was arrested on murder charges Sunday, was being held at the Bell County Jail, just outside the Army base, officials said.
Public records list Wessel's hometown as Leavenworth, Kan. Nearby Fort Leavenworth is home to the military's maximum security prison. Messages left with family members there were not returned.
According to Dickinson, her brother was killed after Wessel allegedly argued with him, returned to the party with a weapon and shot Dickinson. She said she learned from family members in Texas that Wessel has three young children.
Kate Dickinson said a wake for her brother is set for Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Moloney's Bohemia Funeral Home, 1320 Lakeland Ave., Bohemia. Funeral plans for Monday have not been completed.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated Chris Grey's title.