Focus On ‘Why’ In Puerto Rican Officer’s Murder/Suicide At Fort Hood

Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood, speaks with the media outside the military base on Wednesday, April 2, 2014. AP Photo/Tamir Kalifa
Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood, speaks with the media outside the military base on Wednesday, April 2, 2014. AP Photo/Tamir Kalifa

News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. April. 24, 2014: The U.S. Defense Department and the Army said yesterday they are working to determine why a Puerto Rico-born soldier killed three others and wounded 16 before taking his own life at Fort Hood, Texas on April 2nd.

“Both DOD and the Army are focused on finding the root cause of this incident, comforting victims and assuring [them] our military communities are safe places to live and work,” Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters Thursday.

Ivan Lopez, an Iraq war veteran who was reportedly being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder, opened fire at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas on Wednesday.
He took his own .45-caliber handgun onto the sprawling base and killed three people and wounded 16 more before taking his own life.

Lopez, 34-year-old, joined the Army in June 2008 as an infantryman, McHugh said. He deployed to the Sinai with the Army National Guard for a year, then became a truck driver. In 2011, he deployed to Iraq in the active component during the final four months of the U.S. presence there.

His records show no wounds, no direct involvement in combat and no injury that would warrant further investigation of a battlefield traumatic brain injury, Army Secretary John M. McHugh told lawmakers Thursday. He was undergoing a variety of treatment and had diagnoses for mental health conditions ranging from depression to anxiety to some sleep disturbance, McHugh continued.

He was being prescribed a number of drugs to address those, including Ambien.

Last month, the soldier was seen by a psychiatrist. There was no indication or sign of likely violence to himself or others and no suicidal ideation, McHugh said. The plan forward was to continue monitoring and treating him as deemed appropriate. The soldier’s service record is clean in terms of major misbehaviors, he said.

The weapon believed to have been used in the attack was a .45-caliber pistol that the soldier had recently purchased, McHugh said. The weapon wasn’t registered, and when he brought it on post it was there illegally, he added.

The alleged shooter lived off post and was married. His wife is being questioned, the secretary said.

Wednesday’s incident was the second mass shooting in less than five years at Fort Hood.

Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a psychiatrist, opened fire at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009, killing 13 and injuring more than 30 others.

President Barack Obama has directed the departments to use every resource available to fully investigate the shooting, officials said Thursday. “The Fort Hood community is strong and resilient,” the White House statement added, “and the president emphasized the importance of doing everything we can to ensure the community has every resource needed to recover, heal, and come back stronger than before.”

Army Secretary McHugh told lawmakers Thursday the investigation are still “fluid.”

“We’re keeping an open mind and an open investigation. We’ll go where the facts lead us,” he added as he appeared before a Senate Armed Services Committee posture hearing that was supposed to focus on readiness, manpower, modernization and the budget.