Memorial to slain Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen is vandalized

Sakshi Venkatraman
·2 min read

A memorial honoring slain Fort Hood soldier Spc. Vanessa Guillen in Killeen, Texas, was vandalized overnight by a man who ran through the site, kicking candles and flowers left in her honor.

A surveillance camera video was released Friday by the League of United Latin American Citizens, the nation's oldest Latino civil rights group, known as Lulac, which is calling on the public's help in identifying he man.

"I would ask that we focus on reminding the community that the mural is there to bring the community together and bring awareness to sexual assault, sexual harassment and its prevention,” LULAC District Director Analuisa Tapia said in a public statement. “Our community has already been damaged by the loss of one too many soldiers. We ask that we collectively take care of the mural as we honor our service members who live in that silent combat.”

According to NBC affiliate KCEN, the memorial was cleaned up later Friday morning.

Killeen police told NBC News they they have received calls from reporters about the video but did not have a call reporting the incident.

Guillen, a 20-year-old army specialist, was last seen alive on April 22 at the Fort Hood military base. Her disappearance made national headlines as public figures, including actress Salma Hayek, joined community members demanding an investigation. Her dismembered remains were found near the base two months later. When police moved in to arrest Spc. Aaron Robinson, 20, in connection with the death, he shot and killed himself, authorities said in early July.

Guillen’s death sparked outrage and a national call for the military to investigate and acknowledge allegations of abuse by female soldiers. Guillen's family said that she told had them she was being sexually harassed, but fear of retaliation kept her from telling her superiors.

The attention brought on by Guillen’s death led to investigations into the climate for female soldiers and the chain of command on the base, with Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy pledging to create "enduring change" in her honor.

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