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Three victims of Fort Hood rampage named by family, friends



By Lisa Maria Garza and Eileen O'Grady

(Reuters) - The three people killed in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas were all male soldiers in their 30s, friends and family said on Friday, as the military searched for a motive behind the second mass shooting in five years at the massive Army base.

Ivan Lopez, a 34-year-old soldier battling mental illness, is suspected of killing the three and wounding 16 others with a recently purchased pistol before turning the gun on himself at Fort Hood on Wednesday.

Among the victims was Army Sergeant Timothy Owens, 37, a recently married native of Effingham, Illinois, who was shot in the chest at close range, his mother-in-law told the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper.

Sgt. First Class Danny Ferguson, 39, from Florida, had just returned from Afghanistan and died while trying to barricade a door to keep the shooter away, his fiancée and fellow soldier Kristen Haley told Tampa broadcaster WTSP-TV. She was nearby when the shooting started.

"If he wasn't the one standing there holding those doors closed, that shooter would have been able to get through and shoot everyone else," she told WTSP-TV.

The third fatality was Carlos Lazaney, 38, of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, the city's mayor told NBC News on Friday.

The suspected shooter Lopez enlisted in 2008 and had served two tours of duty abroad, including four months in Iraq in 2011, military officials said. He had no direct involvement in combat and had not been wounded.

There was a strong possibility a verbal altercation with another soldier or soldiers preceded the shooting, Lieutenant General Mark Milley told reporters on Thursday, adding there was no indication that he targeted specific people.

The Lopez family, who live in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, said in a statement that it is "dismayed" by the tragic events.

"This is a very painful situation," the father of Ivan Lopez said in the statement. "I ask for prayers for the affected families."

"My son could not have been in sound mind. He was not that way," he said.

'SOMETHING'S GONE WRONG'

The rampage is the third shooting at a military base in the United States in about six months that, along with a series of shootings in public places, such as schools and malls, has intensified a national debate over gun violence.

It has also raised questions about security at U.S. military installations, such as Fort Hood, home to some 45,000 soldiers and airmen assigned to the 335-square-mile (870-square-km) base, along with thousands of civilian employees.

"Obviously we have a gap. Anytime we lose an individual, something's gone wrong," U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters in Hawaii on Thursday.

Military officials have so far ruled out terrorism as the reason for the attack.

Lopez had been treated for depression and anxiety. He was being evaluated to see if he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, military officials said.

The shooting sent shockwaves through the Central Texas community in Killeen, where the base is located, that is still reeling from a 2009 attack in which a former Army psychiatrist, Major Nidal Hasan, shot dead 13 people and wounded 32 others.

Lopez, originally from Puerto Rico, had recently bought the gun he used, a Smith & Wesson .45-caliber pistol, at Guns Galore, the same store in Killeen where Hasan purchased the weapon he used in his shooting spree.

All of the wounded shooting victims were showing signs of improvement, Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple said.

"The three patients previously listed in critical condition have been upgraded to fair condition and are expected to remain in the hospital for the next several days," it said in a statement on Friday.

Five patients have been discharged, with one patient staying on through Friday for tests.

(Additional reporting by Chris Francescani and Victoria Cavaliere in New York and Ana Martinez in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico; Writing by Jon Herskovitz)

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delgado1bonnie April 04 2014 at 7:45 PM

I wish we could all just wake up tomorrow and say all of this was just a bad dream.... sadly it is real, it is heartbreaking, and senseless.....from this RETIRED ARMY household we ask the families of ALL victims to accept our deepest condolences in these hours of sorrow and loss... to our HEAVENLY FATER, we pray for all to seek WORLD PEACE...let it commence here at home..., Lord, hear our pleas..

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inezflri1 April 04 2014 at 6:20 PM

What a sad day for America..I feel bad for all concerned, especialy the family of that man who killed and injured those people.He must have been out of his mind.I hope all the ijnjured, will be well soon, and hope that man's family, will not be judged, by his terrible acts. God, willing.

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William McCurtis April 04 2014 at 6:19 PM

This hurts....very deeply. I have seen soldiers....my brothers....from my time in service, go off the deep end. Some were able to be helped, some passed on. Some are up in the forest of the North West and refuse to have anything more to do with society. Vietnam did this to them.....and no one recognized behavior that was not normal, agent orange victims were denied treatment. Specialist Lopez "snapped". My heart and prayers go out to his family, the family of the victims, and the members of his company. My Prayers also go for the Commanding General and Ft. Hood. Why? because he has to deal with all the media and keep his soldiers on track. Stupid people have even said (including a Phoenix radio program host), that soldiers should be allowed to carry weapons. Sir, if you read this....WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK SOLDIERS FIGHT WITH? From my understanding, this was a personel purchase firearm. We are allowed to do this. Government arms and ammunition are ALWAYS under lock and key and when not in a combat situation are issued under strict supervision. So to the radio show host and ALL who think like him....SHUT THS F___, UP!!! If you are really that stupid, go find an island in the pacific and STAY THERE! This tragedy and the previous on at Hood, where I lost an acquaintance in that shooting, is bad enough without idiots with access to the general public saying the wrong thing. I was proud to pass my knowledge to those that trained the ones that trained these soldiers. Those that lost their lives (including Specialist Lopez)....believe me.....your brothers and sisters that have gone before you will welcome you with open arms and you will be at peace,forgiveness and rest.

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nellys264 April 04 2014 at 6:17 PM

This is a sad day for all American because of our lack of understanding the mentally ill regardless where they are from. All the families will miss those that were taken from them. I hope that the military realizes that all soldiers should have some type of screening to ensure that they can deal with the stresses of military life.

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rubyzadia April 04 2014 at 10:45 PM

Everything written so far says this guy had maybe some depression and anxiety. He had recently been given medication for insomnia. There are millions of people in this country diagnosed with depression and or anxiety. Anti-depression and anti-anxiety meds are doled out like candy. Insomnia is also a common complaint. This media hype of "battling mental illness" is getting to be a bit much. These conditions are the same ones being "battled" (also known as managed) by literally millions of people every single day. Those people don't do things like this. It's time to find another reason.

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alf42894 April 04 2014 at 6:15 PM

yea may the lord bles and brind cumfert 2 all the victoms and familys of this great tragidy and 2 the vets that came home broken by the the wars they fot murder is. Fowel crime but waris even a wers 1 I wish u all the best

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grsafe April 04 2014 at 10:15 PM

The shooter was battling mental illness? What does that mean? Does it mean he was drugged up? What does the toxicology report say? Is this another mental patient given a prescription and sent on his way? How long is this craziness going to go on?

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bobstave April 04 2014 at 11:46 PM

PLEASE DO NOT JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS REGARDING PTSD OR TROOPS WHO ARE HAVING PROBLEMS NOT EVERY INCIDENT CAN BE EXPLAINED AWAY BY PTSD...WE STILL DO NOT KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT HOW AN INDIVIDUAL WILL REACT TO THE SIMPTOMS......IT TOOK YEARS TO EVEN GET A HANDLE ON COMBAT RELATED PROBLEMS. DON'T MAKE PTSD A CATCH ALL FOR WHAT AN INDIVIDUAL DOES TO HARM HIM/HER SELF OR OTHERS. HAVING BEEN IN MORE THEN ONE GUN FIGHT IN MY TIME (WARS), IT TAKES YEARS TO BEABLE TO DEAL WITH THE AFTERMATH......I WOULD SAY THERE IS A PROBLEM IN THE COMAND STRUCTURE AT FT HOOD....THINK OF IT THIS WAY, FT HOOD IS THE LARGEST ARMY BASE THAT HOUSES MORE COMBAT VETS THEN ANY OTHER PLACE IN THE STATES OR THE WORLD. SO THERE YOU HAVE IT...DOD PUTS SO MANY WAR WERRY VETS IN ONE PLACE AND DAA...THERE'S GOING TO BE PROBLEMS. THE SAME IS NOT TRUE FOR FT BENNING OR FT BRAGG...IS IT?...BOB STAVE USA (RET)....RANGERS FIRST...."IF YOU CARE ENOUGH TO SEND THE VERY BEST" AND HAPPY TRAILS.....

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Phyllis April 04 2014 at 5:59 PM

God bless there families and heal the wounded, and thank the brave soldier for giving his life for his countrymen as he had already been doing, so brave.

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trisanna April 04 2014 at 11:49 PM

Terrible situation!! My prayers are going out to the survivors.

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