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Army: Ivan Lopez, Fort Hood gunman, showed no previous violence



FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) -- The soldier who killed three people before committing suicide in an attack on the same Texas military base where more than a dozen people were slain in 2009 had shown no recent risks of violence, authorities said Thursday.

The shooter, identified as Ivan Lopez by Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, opened fire at Fort Hood on Wednesday afternoon. He wounded more than a dozen others.

Military officials declined to formally identify the gunman, an enlisted soldier with the rank of specialist, by name until his family members had been officially notified.

But Army Secretary John McHugh said the soldier saw no combat during a four-month deployment to Iraq as a truck driver from August to December 2011. A review of his service record showed no Purple Heart, which indicates he never was wounded.

The soldier saw a psychiatrist last month and showed no "sign of any likely violence either to himself or others," McHugh said. His record shows "no involvement with extremist organizations of any kind."

"We're not making any assumptions by that. We're going to keep an open mind and an open investigation. We will go where the facts lead us. And possible extremist involvement is still being looked at very, very carefully. He had a clean record in terms of his behavior," McHugh said.

Within hours of the Wednesday attack, investigators started looking into whether the soldier had lingering psychological trauma from his time in Iraq. Fort Hood's senior officer, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, said the gunman had sought help for depression, anxiety and other problems, and was taking medication.

Among the possibilities investigators were exploring was whether a fight or argument on the base triggered the attack.

"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," a federal law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to discuss the case by name, said hours after the shooting Wednesday.

Investigators searched the soldier's home Thursday and questioned his wife, said Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug.

Lopez apparently walked into a building Wednesday afternoon and began firing a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol. He then got into a vehicle and continued firing before entering another building, but he was eventually confronted by military police in a parking lot, according to Milley, senior officer on the base.

As he came within 20 feet of an officer, the gunman put his hands up but then reached under his jacket and pulled out his gun. The officer drew her own weapon, and the suspect put his gun to his head and pulled the trigger a final time, Milley said.

McHugh said the soldier, a Puerto Rico native, joined the island's National Guard in 1999 and served on a yearlong peace-keeping mission in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in the mid-2000s. He then enlisted with the Army in 2008, McHugh said.

His weapon recently was purchased locally and was not registered to be on the base, Milley said. He arrived at Fort Hood in February from Fort Bliss, Texas.

Suzie Miller, a 71-year-old retired property manager who lived in the same apartment complex as Lopez near Fort Hood in Killeen, said few in the area knew him and his wife well because they had just moved in a few weeks ago.

"I'd see him in his uniform heading out to the car every morning," Miller said. "He was friendly to me and a lot of us around here."

Those injured Wednesday were taken to the base hospital and other local hospitals. At least three of the nine patients at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple were listed in critical condition Thursday. Those three were expected to survive, Dr. Matthew Davis told reporters.

The shootings immediately revived memories of the 2009 shooting rampage on Fort Hood, the deadliest attack on a domestic military installation in U.S. history. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 were wounded.

Until an all-clear siren sounded hours after Wednesday's shooting began, relatives of soldiers waited anxiously for news about their loved ones.

Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan was convicted last year for the November 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood. According to trial testimony, he walked into a crowded building, shouted "Allahu Akbar!" - Arabic for "God is great!" - and opened fire. The rampage ended when Hasan was shot in the back by base police officers.

Hasan, now paralyzed from the waist down, is on death row at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. He has said he acted to protect Islamic insurgents abroad from American aggression.

After that shooting, the military tightened base security nationwide. That included issuing security personnel long-barreled weapons, adding an insider-attack scenario to their training, and strengthening ties to local law enforcement. The military also joined an FBI intelligence-sharing program aimed at identifying terror threats.

In September, a former Navy man opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard, leaving 13 people dead, including the gunman. After that shooting, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the Pentagon to review security at all U.S. defense installations worldwide and examine the granting of security clearances that allow access to them.

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Associated Press writers Ramit Plushnick-Masti in Houston; Robert Burns, Eric Tucker and Alicia Caldwell in Washington; Lolita C. Baldor in Honolulu; Dánica Coto in San Juan; and Nedra Pickler in Chicago contributed to this report.

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BRAD April 03 2014 at 2:57 PM

Has anyone noticed a trend with all these shooters, they are all on some kind of medication. Seems most of these mass shootings have happened in the last 20-30 years, and that is about the same time frame that kids where getting prescribed heavy amounts of drugs. Seems like all these drugs being give out like candy need to be looked into.

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soffit1 BRAD April 03 2014 at 3:45 PM

Yes, check out these sites for information regarding why this occurs. It is often an adverse drug reactions. Pharmaceutical companies knew this to be true during their own clinical drug trials. But they wanted to make big money off the SSRI drugs (Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa). To hide the adverse side effect of increased agitation, new and/or worsening violent thoughts, the drug companies started tranquilizing their test subjects. They gave test subjects valium in addition to Zoloft, Prozac, etc. and failed to tell the FDA that the subjects were sedated. Then the FDA approved these drugs... I wonder how many people out there are prescribed SSRI antidepressants for mild anxiety, then months later when they become more anxious, they are prescribed valium or Risperdal or another tranquilizer... These unsuspecting people never know that their worsening condition may have nothing to do with their original problem and everything to do with the first drug they were prescribed.

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soffit1 soffit1 April 03 2014 at 3:49 PM

Here are some sites to check out:

http://davidhealy.org/prescription-only-homicide-and-violence/ (article)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCycWLADUps (video)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBJfZtB_3cc (video)

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hi halbert April 03 2014 at 3:48 PM

So sad for the families who lost loved ones and the wounded. I also pray for the soldier and his family because obviously he had some mental issues. I think it is time in this country where we treat mental illness like any other disease and do not look down upon those who have a problem. The experts missed something. Soldiers are more likely to get a problem even without combat. The combat they fight is with the military and their lack of helping our soldiers or recognizing the problem and getting the benefits they deserve. God Bless our soldiers and their families.

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jwatson611 April 03 2014 at 3:52 PM

My deepest sympathy and prayers go out to the Ft. Hood soldiers and their families who lost a loved one or have an injured soldier. I am so sorry to hear of this again. I doubt PTSD is the culprit here. This soldier was deployed for only 4 months and saw no action at all. I predict he had mental problems from the beginning that went undiagnosed. I'm sure as the investigators delve into his history there were warning signs about his mental instability that unfortunately culminated into this tragedy.

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AJDeVeSr April 03 2014 at 3:54 PM

My heart and prayers go out to the the helpless victims as well as the Shooter . Something is wrong thats for sure. Some stupid people still blame the gun. Do you blame the axe for chopping down the tree???.....If you take the guns away from lawful people .....the only ones that will have guns are the unlawful criminals who get them any way they can.... Yes there are people that shouldnt have guns.. and they are the ones that cause most.. if not all the problems,,,, Killings and mass shootings are not done by normal people.

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hduque8843 April 03 2014 at 4:12 PM

PTSD, of course, they never accept that. I feel pretty bad for those soldiers who lost their life here at home. RIP

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mrssharon529 April 03 2014 at 2:50 PM

My prayers go out to the families and the military.

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crabbyoldart April 03 2014 at 2:02 PM

you have facilities that have been attacked and many personnel have been killed - and then you secure the facilities....right?? Not in this case and the first question asked should be why wasn't Fort Hood, a military facilities base not heavily secured after the 2009 shooting - every building with armed soldiers to monitor the coming and going of all.
The message from this shooting is.....anyone can do the same damage over and over again with success - even on a US military base. Wonder how secure the naval yard inDC is these days....the replacement World Trade Center (gee...breached by youth not a few months ago)......this is tragic - and it is stupid not to learn and adapt what you have learned into viable security.
Not heartless, my prayers go out to those families who have injured or dead family members.

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rma101560 crabbyoldart April 03 2014 at 2:17 PM

How secure is your local mall, park, Starbucks or your place of employment? Guns are banned where I work and it is key-control access but there is nothing to keep a disgruntled employee from bring one in. Americans need to accept the fact that no one can plan for every eventuality. How much more freedom are you willing to give up to make even more government and public facilities "secure"? Virginia Tech was a "gun-free" zone, Sandy Hook had "enhanced" security and locked doors. Have you ever been on a military base? There are more entrances and exits to secure than can be believed. Let me repeat: We cannot plan for every eventuality and cannot keep everybody safe. It wasn't feasible before 9/11 and actually never has been. Bad things do happen to good people. There are always "innocent" victims.

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doris April 03 2014 at 4:16 PM

God bless the sevice people and their famlies...This is so sad..

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pat5017 April 03 2014 at 1:49 PM

Praying for our Military

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mtlmasters April 03 2014 at 2:35 PM

My son in law has PTSD and I have seen mild freak outs, I will do what it takes to get him the help he needs. I love that boy to death. The military needs to jump at ANY first glimps, I was at a party ear fort hood a while ago... What was supposed to be a joke might have been a cry for help. So get your heads out our ass'ss and help these guys and ladies. It wasn't hard for them to make the decision to go cover out butts, it's the least we can do.

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1 reply
sandyd3245 mtlmasters April 03 2014 at 2:50 PM

Men with PTSD are not all killers by any means. My husband suffers from PTSD, after living with it , we know when he is feeling bad and the best thing we can do for him is leave him alone. He goes to his own room and has quiet time. I don't allow him to be put on Life Altering drugs, those are when these problems develop. He was on them for years and now only takes one medication that controls hiis PTSD. He is doing good on this drug.

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