Luci Hamlin and her husband, Specialist Timothy Hamlin,
wait to get back to their home on base at Fort Hood, after
the shooting. REUTERS/Austin American-Statesman/Deborah
The soldier suspected of shooting dead three people
before killing himself at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas was
identified as Ivan Lopez, a man battling mental illness when he
went on a rampage, the base commander said.
No motive was given for the shooting spree, which also left
16 wounded in what was the second mass killing in five years
at one of the largest military bases in the United States,
raising questions about security at such installations.
Officials have so far ruled out terrorism.
"We have very strong evidence that he had a medical history
that indicates unstable psychiatric or psychological
conditions," Lieutenant General Mark Milley told reporters.
"There may have been a verbal altercation with another
soldier or soldiers. There is a strong possibility that that
in fact immediately preceded the shooting," said Milley,
adding there was no indication that he targeted specific
Lopez, 34, originally from Puerto Rico, had been treated for
depression and anxiety. He was being evaluated to see if he
suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD,
military officials said.
He is suspected of smuggling onto the base a recently
purchased Smith & Wesson .45 caliber pistol that was used
in the shootings.
Milley said Lopez purchased the firearm at Guns Galore, the
same store in Killeen where former Army psychiatrist Major
Nidal Hasan bought the weapon he used to kill 13 people and
wound 32 others at Fort Hood in 2009.
U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh said Lopez, who joined the
service in 2008, had served two tours of duty abroad,
including four months in Iraq in 2011. He had no direct
involvement in combat and had not been wounded.
"He was undergoing a variety of treatment and diagnoses for
mental health conditions, ranging from depression to anxiety
to some sleep disturbance. He was prescribed a number of
drugs to address those, including Ambien," McHugh told a U.S.
Senate committee hearing.
Lopez served in the Puerto Rico National Guard for several
years in an infantry unit and as a band member, both military
combat training assignments; he also did a stint as part of
an observation mission in the Sinai, Egypt, Puerto Rico
National Guard Major Jamie Davis told Reuters.
Three of the soldiers listed in critical condition were
showing signs of improvement and their condition was upgraded
to serious, a doctor at Scott & White hospital in Temple
One of the injured was identified by his family via Twitter
as Major Patrick Miller, of New York.
At the modest blue-and-gray apartment building in Killeen
where Lopez lived with his wife and 2-year-old daughter,
American flags flew and "Welcome home" signs adorned the
walls of a place favored by soldiers rotating through the
Army chaplains visited the family on Thursday.
Shaneice Banks, 21, a self-described Army wife, was with
Lopez's wife when news of the shooting broke.
"She heard her husband's name on the news and she just lost
it," Banks told Reuters.
Another neighbor, Mahogoney Jones, 21, said the wife was in a
state of panic. "She's calling and calling her husband
because she feels something is wrong. She kept screaming 'No
answer! No answer!'".
Jones said she last saw Lopez when he came home for lunch on
the day of the shooting.
"He was calm. He petted my dog and then went back to base,"
There are about 45,000 soldiers and airmen assigned to the
335-square-mile (870-square-km) base along with nearly 10,000
civilian employees, according to Fort Hood.
It was not clear what spurred the gunman to enter two base
buildings and open fire on fellow soldiers at about 4:00 p.m.
local time (2100 GMT) on Wednesday.
When confronted by a female military police officer in a
parking lot, he killed himself with his semi-automatic
The incident is the third shooting at a military base in the
United States in about six months that, along with a series
of shootings in schools and malls, has sparked a national
debate over gun violence.
Retired Army Sergeant Alonzo Lunsford, who was shot multiple
times in the 2009 incident at Fort Hood, said the military
has not done enough to treat the mental scars of those who
have served in combat regions.
"The military needs to go ahead and stop talking about the
problem and talking about what we're going to do. Just do
it," Lunsford said.