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Ivan Lopez May Have Argued With Soldiers Before Fort Hood Shooting

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) -- The soldier who killed three people at Fort Hood may have argued with another service member prior to the attack, and investigators believe his unstable mental health contributed to the rampage, authorities said Thursday.

The base's senior officer, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, said there is a "strong possibility" that Spc. Ivan Lopez had a "verbal altercation" with another soldier or soldiers immediately before Wednesday's shooting, which unfolded on the same Army post that was the scene of an infamous 2009 mass shooting.

However, there's no indication that he targeted specific soldiers, Milley said.

Lopez never saw combat during a deployment to Iraq and had shown no apparent risk of violence before the shooting, officials said.

The 34-year-old truck driver from Puerto Rico seemed to have a clean record that showed no ties to extremist groups. But the Army secretary promised that investigators would keep all avenues open in their inquiry of the soldier whose rampage ended only after he fired a final bullet into his own head.

"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," Army Secretary John McHugh said, explaining that "possible extremist involvement is still being looked at very, very carefully."

Scott & White Memorial Hospital in nearby Temple, Texas, was still caring for five of the 16 people who were wounded. Three were in serious condition, and two others were in good condition and could be discharged later Thursday.

Hospital officials had no information about patients being treated elsewhere, including at a base hospital. But because the hospital is the area's only trauma center, the patients with the most serious injuries were probably taken there.

Within hours of Wednesday's assault, investigators started looking into whether Lopez had lingering psychological trauma from his time in Iraq. The shooter had sought help for depression, anxiety and other problems, and was taking medication, military officials said.

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

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

As he came within 20 feet of a police 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.

Lopez grew up in Guayanilla, a town of fewer than 10,000 people on the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico, with a mother who was a nurse at a public clinic and a father who did maintenance for an electric utility company.

Glidden Lopez Torres, who said he was a friend speaking for the family, said Lopez's mother died of a heart attack in November.

The soldier was upset that he was granted only a 24-hour leave to attend her funeral, which was delayed for nearly a week so he could be there, the spokesman said. The leave was then extended to two days.

Lopez joined the island's National Guard in 1999 and served on a yearlong peacekeeping mission in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in the mid-2000s. He enlisted with the Army in 2008, McHugh said.

Lopez saw no combat during a four-month deployment to Iraq as a truck driver in 2011. A review of his service record showed no Purple Heart, indicating he was never wounded, McHugh said. He arrived at Fort Hood in February from Fort Bliss, Texas.

He saw a psychiatrist last month and showed no "sign of any likely violence either to himself or others," McHugh said.

Suzie Miller, a 71-year-old retired property manager who lived in the same Killeen apartment complex as Lopez, said few people 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."

Shaneice Banks, a 21-year-old business-management student who lived downstairs from the Lopezes, said her husband, who also works at Fort Hood, helped the couple move in. Hours before the shooting, Banks said she ran in to Lopez when he came home for lunch.

"He was going to his car, and I was like `Hey, how's your day going?' And he seemed perfectly fine. He was like, `Day's going pretty good. I'll see you whenever I come back home.'"

When word came out that there was a shooting at the base, Banks saw Lopez's wife frantically calling her husband over and over, trying to reach him via cellphone from the apartment's shared courtyard.

"She was bawling because they have a 2-year-old, and she was just holding the baby," Banks said. "My heart just went out to her. I was trying to get her information when I could but she doesn't speak a lot of English."

Xanderia Morris lives next door to Banks. She also saw Karla Lopez distraught in the courtyard.

"We tried to console her. She called some people over, and we were consoling her, and then she started up the stairs back to his apartment, and they identified him as the shooter on television. She just broke down. We had to rush her up the stairs so nothing would happen to her," Morris said.

Neighbors took Lopez into Morris' apartment, where she sat crying on the sofa for a long time.

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

Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan was convicted last year in that assault, which he has said was to protect Islamic insurgents abroad from American aggression.

After that shooting, the military tightened base security nationwide.

In September, a former Navy man opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard, leaving 13 people dead, including the gunman. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the Pentagon to review security at all U.S. defense installations worldwide.

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cessnatx April 04 2014 at 10:06 AM

I'm ex Navy..and we always had people aboard who wore sidearms at all times...Not MP's...It's just a normal thing. On the base all personel were unarmed except for MP's. We never had a problem with someone going violent. If they were unbalanced...someone noticed and soon enough they silently disappeared....shipped off to a hospital or other duty. Sometimes someone would lose it and jump overboard...It's pretty tough to turn a ship around in mid ocean and find someone...so he must have been serious about wanting out. His wish was granted.
As far as todays violence...It's in the mindset of some people that killing is the equivalent of solving their personal anquish somehow. A study of when this kind of thing began to happen would be in order. A study of the positive influences that are no longer allowed would be a great step in the right direction..I'm referring of course to religious expression...prayer...Bibles readily available...I've heard Chaplains can't even lead a prayer anymore....I guess we're lucky the Bases still allow the Flag to be flown...Folks the Liberals and the Athiest have taken over....Since that began ....Things have changed in this country....look around....See it with your own eyes....Is it okay with you that this has been allowed to happen...? Or are you going to stand up and do something....
To the "anti" gun crowd....Get a life....If you could solve the problem of violence by removing all the tools used "one at a time"....Seems you'd start with the first most commonly used tool of violence....The KNIFE.....Look it up...At any rate...The criminals won't turn them in....It's already been tried

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3 replies
mev11963 April 04 2014 at 10:37 AM

The problem seems to be that it has become normal to use a gun when you get angry. There seems to be no respect anymore for the sanctity of life. Don't know how to fix that. But maybe someone should start looking at the larger picture. I mean some guy shooys someone in a movie theater over a piece of popcorn? Kids shooting up schools bcause they were dissed? What ever happened to appropriate response behavior?

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1 reply
d1anaw mev11963 April 04 2014 at 10:46 AM

If the NRA had their way every man, woman and child would be required to carry and use a gun every time someone says something they don't like.

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1 reply
Tutu d1anaw April 04 2014 at 11:02 AM

And that would be a good thing. Myself, I have had guns for over 50 years and have never shot anyone ar at anyone, even when my Irish temper got the best of me. I do hope that if you are ever in need one of us lawful and legal gun owners is close by to help you...no on second thought...you can use your stupid mind set to save yourself.

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norhazg April 04 2014 at 9:19 AM

How come there were no mass shootings from these wars or service in our military. Spanish American war, WW1,WW2,korea? All of this started after Vietnam. Before that time ,this condition( if it exists) was called, battle fatigue, now PTSD. There must be some other reason. And two shootings at the same base ,seem too much of a coincidence. Could it be copy cat crime? Dont know! But one thing is sure ,,,, YOU CANNOT PREVENT MURDER. If they want you they will get you one way or another.

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1 reply
happy2bgridfree norhazg April 04 2014 at 9:26 AM

I'm sure there were incidents like this following other wars. We now have 24/7 cable news and this thing called the Internet. Stuff that was swept under the carpet years ago are brought into the open now, almost the minute they happen.

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military42brat April 04 2014 at 9:18 AM

It wasn't a police officer. It was an MP (Military police) get it rigfht. Details

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1 reply
ayyiyicaramba military42brat April 04 2014 at 10:10 AM

FYI: The military does employ so called "Civilian" Military Police Officers. Case in point: The two (2) military police officers who confronted and engaged TERRORIST U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan were "CIVILIANS"

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smcmahon1949 April 04 2014 at 10:39 AM

this is so sad my prayers go out to all those involved for comfort peace and healing . i wonder if when our service men complain of the symptoms Lopez did maybe withholding their weapons while on base might be possible until we are sure they are on the right meds sometimes meds can make you act or overreact to situations just a thought but my heart goes out to his widow and young childmay god be with them

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patchum02 April 04 2014 at 10:39 AM

this shows there are not enough mental health personal for all the solders returning from the wars. they are trained for 6 months to kill and 10 minutes to come home how does the goverment thinks this ok. WAR IS HELL ON THE YOUNG LIVES

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2 replies
rivertown22 patchum02 April 04 2014 at 10:42 AM

He never was in combat!

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2 replies
sisterdox rivertown22 April 04 2014 at 10:49 AM

So if you're you're not in actual combat you can't be affected? Think again!

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Tutu rivertown22 April 04 2014 at 10:59 AM

Oh really??? Are you even aware that he was in a combat zone?? It is called Afghanistan. He may not have had a combat related MOS..but he was indeed in combat. Neither of my sons that are on active duty have a combat mos (job) but both have been in combat and one tells me that he never wants to see what he saw in Iraq ever again, even in a movie.

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Tutu patchum02 April 04 2014 at 11:00 AM

War is hell on all persons . I do agree that mental health screwedup on this big time. Hand him some pills and say next...he had been looking for help for some time and not getting it......

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xpphil12 April 04 2014 at 9:10 AM

Its not just people with serious emotional problems (mental problems) who can snap and become violent enough to kill.Some, I emphasize some people with low self esteem can become violent when they are rebuked or embarrassed in public.If I had to bet money, I would say road rage incidents arise from a person with low self esteem.Unfortunatley psychologists don't know how to work to undo the damage to self esteem so they just push pills with no improvement.Fortunately there are resources on the internet you can buy to work on yourself successfully.

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llhuberarchitect April 04 2014 at 9:36 AM

I thought I heard on various news outlets he was trying to get PTSD declared. If so he could then file a claim for disability and get money from the VA. I also see that there seemed to be no diagnosis of this disorder. Is it possible this ticked him off not getting free money like others with legitimate claims from being involved over and over in true combat situations with the thought they have to be careful and only shoot the bad guy because if they accidentially have collateral damage they will be attacked by the left.

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2 replies
o6usaret llhuberarchitect April 04 2014 at 9:56 AM

If you only "thought I heard" then you probably did not and therefore the rest of your comments are mere dirbble. May I suggest that you keep your pie-hole shut until you have something to say that is proveable.

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chakalaha llhuberarchitect April 04 2014 at 10:12 AM

Good point. I'm a usmc combat vietnam vet. I've been diagnosed with some ptsd. I've seen other non combat vets try for years to get the va to award them. some got it that didn;t deserve it.

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aristars April 04 2014 at 9:07 AM

[... and investigators believe his unstable mental health contributed to the rampage, authorities said Thursday.]
why somebody with mental health poblems is not put on leave until solving wgatever issues?
was upset for 24 hour leave? upset enough to kill others and himself? that proves his unstable mental health! sure it was wrong to give him only 24 houres to attend his mother's funeral, it was really stupid, why not one week. and that might have helped him with the mental issues? after all , there are no urgent military duties needed now! just training, and whatever!!! it seems common sense is not allowed in some places such as this one!!

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1 reply
prawn259 aristars April 04 2014 at 9:18 AM

Well, mostly because it's the military, and the military doesn't put you on leave until things work out. They put you in a mental hospital or jail, but they don't send you home. It's not like working for Apple or IBM. There is no sick leave.

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1 reply
Mark prawn259 April 04 2014 at 9:37 AM

The medic's or command can place an individual on light duty, no duty, or order the individual restricted to about any place they wish. You learn early on that any time off is something granted to you by higher authority and can be withheld at any time.

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jerwaters April 04 2014 at 9:02 AM

Of course there are guns on an Army post, but they're locked up. They are only handed out during training exercises. MP's carry weapons, but individual weapons are usually forbidden. Lopez was not supposed to have that weapon, but he broke the rules. Its probably not much different from where you live.
Perhaps Lopez did have PTSD. He didn't necessarily have to be in direct combat.
As a wounded Vietnam veteran with PTSD and 60% disability, I feel qualified to make these comments.

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prawn259 jerwaters April 04 2014 at 9:20 AM

Don't know if it's still this way, but we were allowed to own guns, but we had to fill out the proper paperwork, and they were store at the armorer, where it wouldn't get stolen. We were allowed to check them out to go target shooting, and when we were transferring out.

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jdsept jerwaters April 04 2014 at 9:34 AM

This guy had not been diagnosed with PTSD though having been under care at two different bases. I wonder why? Perhaps because he also claimed a "self-diagnosed" a traumatic brain injury. Though records show no combat or injury ever happening. It should also be noted this guy served active duty since 202010 and only obtained the rank of an E-4 which says a lot. I obtained the rank of E-5 twice though only serving 2 years. This guy also enlisted in the reserves in 1999 though was kicked out because of failing training. He was allowed back into the reserves in 2003 to be in a military band. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/04/fort-hood-shooter-had-lengthy-but-unremarkable-military-career/ My feelings is that this guy was a phony looking for a way out along with a disability, he might not deserve. It looks like this all came about because of a direct conflict with another soldier or more that just expanded. Granted the guy obviously had issues. My question would be is why this guy with such a poor military history over numerous years (again E-4 highest rank obtained) was allowed to reenlist.

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Shalom, Carmela jdsept April 04 2014 at 1:47 PM

You bring up valid points, he was not diagnoised with PTSD and he "self diagnoised" a traumatic brain injury but there is no record of it. I thought I saw a report that said he was sent state side because of bahavorial and mental health issues. I would be curious to know what happened in the those 4 months in Iraq.
I do disagree with you tho on the point that this came about because of a verbal confrontation.
MY opinion he purchased the gun weeks ago with intent to do harm to specific people, 3 dead and 16 wounded in 2 different locations does not say random to me.
If it were random then why when he was confronted by female did he raise his hands and then pull weapon out of jacket and shoot himself in the head.
To me it says he accomplished what he intended and this was his end game.

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