Fort Hood Gunman Identified As Iraq Vet Suffering From Mental Health Issues

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Lucy Hamlin and her husband, Spc. Timothy Hamlin, wait for permission to re-enter the Fort Hood military base, where they live, following the shooting. Photo: Tamir Kalifa

A soldier being treated for behavioral and mental health issues opened fire at Ford Hood on Wednesday afternoon, killing three people and wounding 16 before turning his gun on himself. Lockdown at the Texas base was lifted around 8:50 p.m. local time. At a press conference later in the evening Lieutenant General Mark Milley described the shooter as an Army specialist who served four months in Iraq in 2011. He "self-reported" a traumatic brain injury after returning from overseas, and was being evaluated for PTSD, though he had not yet been diagnosed.

Milley would not reveal his name, as his family had not been contacted, but other officials identified him as 34-year-old Specialist Ivan Lopez. His motive is unknown, but Milley said, "At this time there is no indication that this incident is related to terrorism."

Officials say Lopez entered a medical support building at around 4:30 p.m. and began firing with a .45-caliber Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol. The New York Times reports that the gun was purchased recently, and was not authorized to be brought on the base. He got into a vehicle and fired more shots, and entered a building that houses the 49th Transportation Battalion. Then Lopez encountered a female military police officer. "He was approaching her at about 20 feet," Milley said. "He put his hands up, then reached under his jacket, pulled out the (.45) and she pulled out her weapon and then she engaged, and he then he put the weapon to his head."

All of those wounded or killed were fellow military personnel. Lopez had arrived at Fort Hood in February, and worked as a truck driver. He was married and had family in the area. 

Doctors at Scott and White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas said they had treated eight patients and expected one more, according to the Washington Post. Three patients were in critical condition and five were in serious condition. Most received single-gunshot wounds to the neck, chest, and abdomen.

This is the third shooting at a U.S. military base in the past seven months, and it brought back memories of the 2009 Fort Hood rampage in which former Major Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, fatally shot 13 people and wounded 32 others. Hasan was shot by Fort Hood police officers, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down, and is on death row at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who ordered security improvements at military installations following the Navy Yard shooting in September, said on Wednesday, "Obviously when we have these kinds of tragedies on our bases, something's not working."