SPC Ivan Lopez is pictured in the Sinai Peninsula between
2007 and 2008. Photo by Reuters
The three people killed in a shooting rampage at Fort
Hood in Texas were all male soldiers in their 30s, friends and
family said, as the military searched for a motive behind the
second mass shooting in five years at the massive Army base.
Ivan Lopez, a 34-year-old soldier battling mental illness, is
suspected of killing the three and wounding 16 others with a
recently purchased pistol before turning the gun on himself
at Fort Hood on Wednesday (local time).
Among the victims was Army Sergeant Timothy Owens, 37, a
recently married native of Effingham, Illinois, who was shot
in the chest at close range, his mother-in-law told the
Chicago Sun-Times newspaper.
Sgt. First Class Danny Ferguson, 39, from Florida, had just
returned from Afghanistan and died while trying to barricade
a door to keep the shooter away, his fiancée and fellow
soldier Kristen Haley told Tampa broadcaster WTSP-TV. She was
nearby when the shooting started.
"If he wasn't the one standing there holding those doors
closed, that shooter would have been able to get through and
shoot everyone else," she told WTSP-TV.
The third fatality was Carlos Lazaney, 38, of Aguadilla,
Puerto Rico, the city's mayor told NBC News on Friday.
The suspected shooter Lopez enlisted in 2008 and had served
two tours of duty abroad, including four months in Iraq in
2011, military officials said. He had no direct involvement
in combat and had not been wounded.
There was a strong possibility a verbal altercation with
another soldier or soldiers preceded the shooting, Lieutenant
General Mark Milley told reporters on Thursday, adding there
was no indication that he targeted specific people.
The Lopez family, who live in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, said
in a statement that it is "dismayed" by the tragic events.
"This is a very painful situation," the father of Ivan Lopez
said in the statement. "I ask for prayers for the affected
"My son could not have been in sound mind. He was not that
way," he said.
'SOMETHING'S GONE WRONG'
The rampage is the third shooting at a military base in the
United States in about six months that, along with a series
of shootings in public places, such as schools and malls, has
intensified a national debate over gun violence.
It has also raised questions about security at U.S. military
installations, such as Fort Hood, home to some 45,000
soldiers and airmen assigned to the 870 sq km base, along
with thousands of civilian employees.
"Obviously we have a gap. Anytime we lose an individual,
something's gone wrong," U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel
told reporters in Hawaii on Thursday.
Military officials have so far ruled out terrorism as the
reason for the attack.
Lopez 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.
The shooting sent shockwaves through the Central Texas
community in Killeen, where the base is located, that is
still reeling from a 2009 attack in which a former Army
psychiatrist, Major Nidal Hasan, shot dead 13 people and
wounded 32 others.
Lopez, originally from Puerto Rico, had recently bought the
gun he used, a Smith & Wesson .45-caliber pistol, at Guns
Galore, the same store in Killeen where Hasan purchased the
weapon he used in his shooting spree.
All of the wounded shooting victims were showing signs of
improvement, Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple
"The three patients previously listed in critical condition
have been upgraded to fair condition and are expected to
remain in the hospital for the next several days," it said in
a statement on Friday.
Five patients have been discharged, with one patient staying
on through Friday for tests.