KILLEEN, TEXAS—A soldier opened fire on personnel in the same military base as a 2009 tragedy on Wednesday, April 2.
The Fort Hood Press Center stated that around 4:00 p.m., central standard time, a soldier assigned to the 13 Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) fired on people in the area of Fort Hood’s 1st Medical Brigade. Emergency personnel were able to respond to the incident within 15 minutes, where they were able to treat some injuries at the area while other individuals were taken to hospitals to treat some of the more serious injuries. It was reported that the suspect was killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In addition, three others were killed by the gunman while another 16 were wounded.
The identity of the gunman, as well as the identities of the those killed, were not going to be released until 24 hours after the notification of the next of kin. CBS News and NBC News both reported that sources had told them that the gunman was said to be 34-year-old Ivan Lopez, though there still has not been any official confirmation of this statement.
Lt. General Mark Milley, Commanding General at Fort Hood, reiterated in a press conference around 9:45 CDT that the identity of the gunman would not be officially confirmed until families of the deceased were properly notified. Lt. General Milley was able to confirm, however, that the suspect was indeed a soldier and that all of the victims were soldiers stationed at the base. In addition, the gunman was a new arrival to Fort Hood, having been transferred to the base in February. He was also able to confirm that the soldier had served four months in Iraq in 2011 and was currently under diagnosis for PTSD, but had not been properly diagnosed prior to the incident.
Though the exact sequence of events are still being determined by investigators from the FBI, ATF and other law enforcement agencies, Lt. General Milley did say that the gunman, using a .45 caliber Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistol that had been purchased recently from the area, had moved around the base firing on several individuals, even going so far as to fire from a moving vehicle. Victims had suffered injuries from gunshots, broken glass and even from attempting to get away, as one man had tried to jump over a fence in a bid to escape the gunfire.
A female military police officer was able to engage the suspect, who first put his hands in the air before reaching into his jacket to pull out his weapon. As the female officer engaged the gunman, he shot himself in the head. Lt. General Milley said that the man’s body was found in a parking lot on the base. No motive for the incident has been released.
President Barack Obama gave a press conference in the afternoon where he stated that his office was in constant contact with the Department of Defense and the FBI, calling the situation “fluid” at the time. “We are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened,” said President Obama.
Officials from Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas, also gave a press conference, in which they had stated that they had received a call from officials at Fort Hood around 5:00 p.m. CDT to prepare to receive a number of victims from the day’s shooting. Dr. Glen Couchman, Chief Medical Officer of Baylor Health Service’s Central Texas Division, and Dr. Harry Papaconstantinou, Interim Chairman of the hospital’s Department of Surgery, said they had received people whose conditions ranged from “good to critical.
“They’ve had a variety of injuries we’ve been treating, ranging from gunshot wounds that involved extremities, abdomen, chest and neck,” said Dr. Couchman during the press conference.
A statement from the hospital from 10:20 p.m. CDT said that they had accepted nine patients in total, with eight of them currently at the hospital and one more on the way. Out of the patients being treated at Scott & White’s ICU, seven were male and one was a female. Three of the patients were listed as critical, and five were said to be in serious condition.
Texas Governor Rick Perry put out a public statement regarding the shooting, saying, “Ft Hood has proven its resilience before, and will again. Texas will support those efforts in any way we can, with any resources necessary. The thoughts and prayers of all Texans are with everyone affected by this tragedy.”
Fort Hood had suffered the slaughter of 13 people by former Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan on November 5, 2009. Thirty-two others were injured during the shooting. Hasan, who was once a military psychologist, expressed sentiments described as “anti-American,” was sentenced to death in August 2013.
By Alex Nochez