Four years after military psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at Fort Hood and killed 12 unarmed soldiers, authorities are trying to figure out what pushed 34-year-old military truck driver Spec. Ivan Lopez to kill three soldiers and injure 16 others at the Texas army base before killing himself.
Lopez was an Iraq war veteran who served four months in Iraq in 2011. He had been evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder and treated for depression and anxiety, according to authorities.
Lopez had also self-reported a traumatic brain injury upon returning to the U.S., but he was not classified as wounded in action, according to Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, Fort Hood’s commanding officer.
“We have to find all those witnesses, the witnesses to every one of those shootings, and find out what his actions were, and what was said to the victims,” an anonymous federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press.
While Lopez was married and had family living in the Fort Hood area, he didn’t appear to have any children.
According to published reports, the shooting began at about 4 p.m. in the base’s 1st Medical Brigade area, when Lopez walked into one of the buildings, began shooting, got into a vehicle, fired from his vehicle, and then headed into another building where he also opened fire.
A female military officer confronted Lopez in a parking lot and was about 20 feet away when he put his hands up. Milley said Lopez reached under his jacket, pulled out his pistol, and she “engaged,” pulling out her weapon. Lopez put his gun to his head and killed himself.
Milley said the female officer’s actions were “clearly heroic.”
“She did her job,” he said. “She did exactly what we expect of U.S. Army police.”
Hospital officials told reporters that of the eight victims who were taken to Scott and White Memorial Hospital in Temple, the majority had been shot once, with injuries ranging from superficial to life-threatening. Officials said all of the victims were members of the service.
The White House said President Obama conducted a conference call with members of his national security team, including officials from the FBI and the Pentagon, and directed them to use every resource available to figure out what happened.
“We are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened,” the president said. “We’re heartbroken something like this might have happened again.”
Maj. Hasan was convicted at a military trial held at the base last year and sentenced to death. He is now on the military’s death row in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Neighbors of Lopez said he and his wife kept to themselves.
“He was the kind of person that even if you tried to talk to him wouldn’t open up,” Jessie Brown, a neighbor who often passed him on morning walks, told the Washington Post.
The Los Angeles Times reported that when Lopez’s wife, surrounded by family members, heard her husband’s name on the news as the alleged shooter, she became hysterical.
“Everybody [in the family] broke down in tears,” a neighbor told the Times.