Killeen: Slain Soldier’s “Heart Was Bigger Than Texas”

By: Chinh Doan Email
By: Chinh Doan Email
The family of a soldier who died after a shooting in the parking lot of a Killeen convenience store is waiting for answers about how a veteran of two deployments to Iraq ended up the victim of violence at home.

Austin Sampson (left) and his brothers Bennett and Bobby. (Family photo)

KILLEEN (January 14, 2012)—Fort Hood soldier Austin Sampson, 25, and two others were shot on Jan. 2 in the parking lot of a Star Mart convenient store on Old FM 440 in Killeen.

Sampson died two days later and now his family is wondering how he survived two deployments to Iraq, only to die in an act of violence at home.

Investigators later arrested, Terry Scott, 17, who was charged in the shooting, but they have not released a motive.

"Austin would give you the shirt off his back without question," his stepmother, Allison Harper, said.

"His heart was bigger than Texas."

Sampson went straight from high school into the military.

He served two tours in the combat zone in Iraq.

"I was so proud of him that he went over there and did two tours and made it back home safely and some tragic thing happened," his father, James Carter, said.

"To me, it's like they don't appreciate life and took it away for whatever reason."

Sampson's family admits he had trouble finding his way.

"Austin unfortunately was a follower, not a leader," Harper said.

But this still doesn't help them understand why he was a target.

"I don't know if it was a set up," Harper said.

"I don't know if they told Austin, 'Oh, we're just going to run to the store to get beer or chips or cigarettes,' or Austin just jumped in and was just along for the ride," Harper said.

Now Sampson's parents are doing the only thing they know to do to help Bennett, Sampson's little brother, cope.

"We're trying to stay strong for him," Carter said.

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