Four Dead, 16 Injured in Fort Hood Shooting; Shooter Diagnosed with PTSD

KILLEEN, Texas (CNN) — Fort Hood.  The name has been seared in the nation’s collective memory since a soldier went on a deadly shooting spree here in 2009.

On Wednesday, it happened again.

Specialist Ivan Lopez went from one building at the sprawling Texas military base to a second, firing a .45-caliber handgun, killing three people and wounding 16 more.

The 34-year-old Iraq vet then put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger, ending his life.

Authorities say they have not ruled out terrorism, but they were downplaying the possibility.

“There are some initial reports there may have been an argument in one of the unit areas,” Lt. Gen Mark Milley, the post’s commanding general, told reporters late Wednesday.

Officers picked up Lopez’s wife at their apartment near the base in Killeen, and she was cooperating with law enforcement, an FBI official told CNN.

The man, whom a neighbor said often gave her a friendly wave, was undergoing treatment for mental health issues.

Emotional issues

He had arrived at the base in February, moving with his wife and their daughter into an apartment a little more than a week before the shooting.

They appeared to be a normal couple, said neighbor Xanderia Morris. “They would smile whenever they’d see someone,” she said.

But behind Lopez’s smile lay a history of depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders, according to Milley, and he was receiving treatment and taking antidepressants.

He had served for four months in Iraq in 2011. And while Army records don’t show him as having been wounded there, Lopez himself reported that he had suffered a traumatic brain injury, Milley said.

And he was undergoing diagnosis procedures for post-traumatic stress disorder.

“He was not diagnosed, as of today, with PTSD,” Milley said.

Arriving at a PTSD diagnosis, which is common among war veterans, can take time.

He used his own weapon

Lopez had been part of the National Guard in Puerto Rico, but he had left the Guard to join the U.S. Army, National Guard spokeswoman Ruth Diaz said Thursday. He carried out the killings with his own gun — a .45-caliber Smith and Wesson semiautomatic pistol he bought after arriving in Killeen.

By taking it onto the base, he was breaking the rules.

“If you have weapons and you’re on base, it’s supposed to be registered on base,” Milley said. “This weapon was not registered on base.”

In addition, people who are not military police are not allowed to walk around with guns on a military base. They are required to store them in an armory.

Sequence of events

Around 4 p.m., Lopez walked into an administration building at the base and opened fire. He then got into a car, fired from the vehicle, got out of the car, walked into another nearby administration building and fired again.

Over 15 to 20 minutes, he killed three and wounded 16 — all of them army personnel, Milley said.

Three of the wounded were in critical condition early Thursday.

Authorities did not say whether Lopez knew his victims.

The shootings took place in the medical brigade and the transportation battalion buildings. Lopez was assigned to the 13th sustainment command, which deals with logistics.

The base, which has more than 45,000 soldiers and nearly 9,000 civilian employees, went on lockdown.

People were told to shelter in place.

As sirens blared, Pvt. Dehlan Kay stayed in his barracks and talked on a phone. “I’m doing good,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “I’m just a little nervous on what’s happening.”

The all-clear wouldn’t go out for another six hours.

The revelation

The shooting spree ended when a military police officer confronted Lopez in a parking lot. “He put his hands up and reached under his jacket, pulled out the (gun), and she pulled out her weapon. And then she engaged, and then he put the weapon to his head, and he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Milley said.

He added: “She did her job, and she did exactly what we would expect of a U.S. Army military police.”

At the Lopez apartment, the shooter’s wife was watching the news.

She came out crying, worried about her husband, from whom she had not heard all afternoon. But she had no idea that he was the shooter, said Morris, the neighbor.

“I’m just worried, I’m just worried,” Lopez’s wife told her.

“I tried to console her and comfort her, let her know everything was OK,” Morris said.

It was not. When a local TV station identified the dead gunman as Lopez, his widow became “hysterical,” Morris said.

The casualties

It took law enforcement about 15 minutes to respond to the gunfire, Milley said.

Nine of the wounded were taken to Scott & White Memorial Hospital in nearby Temple, where three were in critical condition and six were in serious condition, with the possibility of being upgraded later in the day to fair, said Dr. Matthew Davis.

“It’s been a busy evening,” the surgeon said early Thursday.

Two of the most seriously wounded were operated on overnight and will require further surgery, he told CNN. “The next 24 hours are really critical,” he said.

Though some of the wounds were superficial, others involved vital structures — the neck, the chest, the abdomen. The wounds may heal, but “we clearly are going to have some physical scars and emotional scars going forward,” he said. He predicted that the actions of a man who himself may have had PTSD will likely be responsible for others experiencing it.

“We’ll have to work with some of our long-term professionals who help to work with PTSD,” he said.

The previous mass shooter

In squeezing off his final shot, Lopez’s actions differed from those of Fort Hood’s last mass shooter.

Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan survived after killing 13 people and wounding another 32 on November 5, 2009.

Months later, the former military psychiatrist told a court that he was on a terrorist mission.

During a hearing in June, he said that he fired at soldiers preparing to deploy to Afghanistan to protect leading members of the Taliban.

Hasan was convicted of 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted murder, and a military jury recommended last August that he be put to death.

Not again

“My reaction was not ‘not again here,’ ” Milley said in response to reporters’ questions. “My reaction was to immediately make sure we had a read on the casualties. Immediately secure the site. Immediately look for one or more shooters.”

But others saw the link.

“That was so similar, it just tore up my heartstrings,” Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler told CNN’s “New Day” on Thursday.

Zeigler, who is still recovering from four bullet wounds to the head and body from the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, expressed surprise. “It’s just hard to believe that these people that you serve with, who are your brothers in arms, would turn against you,” he said. “And it’s just incredible that at home, someone in the environment of a military base would decide to do this.”

He said security procedures will never suffice to deter someone bent on committing such an act. “It takes somebody brave enough to report these people in order for it to be prevented.”

“As a community, it’s like you’ve been kicked in the gut. It can’t be happening again,” said Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin.

No community should have to experience such violence once, let alone twice, said John Cornyn, a U.S. senator from Texas. “Tonight, Texans’ hearts are once again very heavy. The scenes coming from Fort Hood today are sadly too familiar and still too fresh in our memories,” he said Wednesday.

“We’re heartbroken something like this might have happened again,” said President Obama, who was briefed by defense and FBI leaders by phone while traveling on Air Force One.

Fort Hood has been resilient before, Gov. Rick Perry said.

TM & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

35 comments

  • Linda Moberg

    Not only do we worry about our military and support groups overseas in unfriendly territory we are still having to worry about them here at home as well and that includes even their family members and civilian personnel! Pray that this person is stopped before we have another Hasan again!

    • D C

      The fact that WU misses in the comparison is that military bases have no carry laws. The only people you have guns are the LEOs, MPs and the criminals. Wake up is not just any troll. He’s a stupid one.

      • WorldGoneCrazy

        Great point, DC! Wake Up is either a woman or a very liberal effeminate man. She made a fool of herself on the south Huntsville murder when she assumed it was a gun, but it turned out to be drugs instead. She was asked if she wanted to outlaw prescription meds, but we haven’t heard back from her yet. Liberalism is a true mental illness – one which is going to get more people killed. Sad that conceal carry is allowed in Texas but not on a military installation in Texas.

      • Wake Up

        Actually, i apologized too fast on that story — it did end up being a husband shooting his wife to death just as I said.

    • Jim M

      I take great offense in your sick attempt at humor about this situation. As a former soldier who was stationed at Ft Hood, I take offense with your sick sense of humor. This is a serious situation and nothing to interject political humor into. This is not a humorous situation. Go somewhere else you internet troll..

      • screw aarp

        Did you take great offense , when Obama, Hillary, and susan rice, lied about the Benghazi attacks, being about a video? as a former MARINE, I sure a HELL did!

      • screw aarp

        So ,wakeup in your view it ok to lie,if it helps your far left socialist views,that Obama,and Ms. Jarrett have. Ms. Jarrett is the puppet MASTER ,in the Whitehouse. she is just following in the foot steps of her MASTER Saul Alinsky.

      • Wake Up

        I did not say that it was ok to lie. I was pointing out the example of lies that Fox News never talks about, and therefore, the Faux news minions don’t either!

      • screw aarp

        Wakeup( James) sound like FOX NEWS is living rent free in your head. The wakeup (I cant prove any of me statements) so I will blame FOX NEWS, because they will not toe the far left socialist line , that MSNBC,CBS ,CNN ,does .remember james RUSH IS RIGHT!

  • Bre

    Pray for the familys!!!! Im waiting to see a report on the names of those hurt or dead from the shooting.

  • tim

    Grew up on military bases and soldiers were armed ! I never heard of mass shootings. Need to get rid of these ” gun free ” death traps..

  • POed Vet

    At least they got the shooter this time and we don’t have to go through the ‘circus’ we went thru with the last ‘incident’! Too bad he wasn’t put to death on the spot instead of wasting all the time and money and national embarassment to have a death penalty, which has NOT YET been carried out, declared.

  • Charles Bavar

    our prayers go out to family and friend of the victums. they would have been less deaths, if our military personnel would have been able to carry. the federal government if putting our soldier at risk with these gun free zones. wake up America.

    • Nuclear Mike

      Perhaps we should consider more the reason why the military personnel are kept unarmed while on base as the indication of realization of these events…

  • Nuclear Mike

    Fort Hood is a place where our killers are created using maximum velocity violence training…are we doing the same here in Huntsville?

    • Nuclear Mike

      With no righteousness in the cause of destroying foreign homelands in hopes of crushing those few that would attack us…the Military with its’ endless deployments and more of our troops feeling the agony of watching the deaths of innocents so many times in killing the bad guys carry a heavy emotional burden without the victory over the enemy…this is the result we pay at home for our own killers who cannot cope with their deeds over there…

  • parkersd

    The thing that disturbs me as I read these stories and the comments made about them is that almost no one seems to call any attention to personal responsibility—regardless of political affiliation. Indeed, it is treated as though it doesn’t even exist. Everyone wants to jump to gun regulations, lack of gun regulations, wars, Obama, Bush, or any number of external causes as the impetus for these kinds of events as if the individual is just a passive player that is driven to do this or that by the things that happen or don’t happen to them.

    Such reasoning when taken to its logical conclusion is self-refuting as there is ultimately no one left to blame; because even the politicians and members of institutions whose policies we might wish to implicate would themselves have to be a product of events that happened to them. Accountability, then, becomes forever deferred. The paradoxical reality is that the more we assume that people are products of their environment (and genes) with little room for personal responsibility the more we can expect people to act this way. Is it too much to ask that we grow up and live as truly responsible human beings and that we expect the same of others?

      • Dane Parker

        The word should be “sounds,” the article “too” contains two Os, I’m aware of no author by the name of “Billy Montfree,” there should be no comma after “Montfree” anyway, and it’s spelled “novels.” To wit, it sounds like someone else doesn’t read — at all.

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