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US Army seeks motive for Fort Hood shooting rampage

By Lisa Maria Garza

(Reuters) - The U.S. Army was searching on Friday for a clear motive for the second mass killing in five years at a Texas base, one of the largest in the United States.

Ivan Lopez, the 34-year-old soldier suspected of shooting dead three people and wounding 16 others before turning the gun on himself at Fort Hood on Wednesday afternoon, was battling mental illness, the Army said, but no motive has been given.

Lopez joined the service 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.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Rick Perry were due to meet with military officials leading the investigation and speak with reporters later on Friday.

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 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 control regulations.

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. But ... let the investigators do their work," U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters in Hawaii on Thursday.

"We have to be careful not to jump to any conclusions or try to frame this up in some kind of a social statement. We just don't know enough yet. And we will know what we need to know to fix the problem," Hagel said.


Military officials have so far ruled out terrorism as inspiration for the attack, but have said Lopez's medical history indicates unstable psychiatric and psychological conditions. He had been treated for depression and anxiety and was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The shooting sent shockwaves through a Central Texas community still reeling from a 2009 attack during 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 shopped.

His family, who live in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, are expected to release a statement sometime on Friday, according to a spokesman for the town's mayor, Edgardo Arlequin.

Three of the soldiers who had been listed in critical condition at Scott & White Hospital in Temple have shown "great signs of improvement", a nursing supervisor said on Friday. Their conditions is now listed as serious.

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

Among those killed was 37-year-old Army Sergeant Timothy Owens, 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.

Owens was shot five times as he tried to calm down the shooter, CBS News reported, citing his mother.

One of the injured was identified by his family via Twitter as Major Patrick Miller of New York. Miller, from Allegany, joined the army after graduating from St. Bonaventure University in 2003, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Herskovitz in Austin, Texas and Chris Francescani in New York; Writing by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Scott Malone and Sofina Mirza-Reid)

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cmax383666 April 04 2014 at 1:51 PM

The reporters have called him everything except a General .If there is nothing good that can be added then we just have to wait.That has always been the military anyway,throw a few civilians in and you have a real mess.I would like to know why he was moved to Fort Hood.The other duty station should have done an evaluation on him. However should- a- would- a- could apply here also.I also noted that one reporter identified the MP as a female ,which is okay but MP would have been sufficient,other than he may have shot a male MP.

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gwalt0771 April 04 2014 at 1:20 PM

Lots of posed photos, "expert" analysis, and speculation about the killer - yet nothing - not even the names - of the three soldiers who were killed. (one of them was Puerto Rican too)

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elvisguyallen April 04 2014 at 2:44 PM

So sorry for the families.

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bckarn April 04 2014 at 3:15 PM

For all the trauma and chaos surriounding both tragedies at Ft. Hood, the Army has learned little about the stresses and conditions that can, very quickly, take a vulnerable individual from sanity to psycholsis. A few nights without sleep, escalating paranoid thinking can both lead to irrational thoughts. For all we know, Lopez viewed everyone he encountered as "the enemy." It doesn't take much! The "motive" would be whatever irrational thinking Lopez had prior to deciding he had to kill people.

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Barbara April 04 2014 at 1:36 PM

What scares me is that one of his posts, on Facebook, words something like, "I am filled with hatred and I think (fear) the Devll will ge me this time" I may be off on a word or two as I only saw this report once but I thought people see posts, so why was this ignored. I am not saying this because it proved to be right but anyone with an ounce of IQ should have been scared straifght to read that.. and no on reported it? What is wrong with people. Our society is in the toilet!

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Herb Malloy Jr April 04 2014 at 12:50 PM

Looking at his uniform it tells a story of the 34 year old E4, battling mental illness? There had
to be more than a few signs. Being in the Army you expect casualties in combat and hostile areas and kept to a minimum, but not by your own, now that is really ###### up. It is time to downsize, trim the fat, go high tech, 1 soldier with the right network can equal a Division of Soldiers.

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Mike's Wife April 04 2014 at 12:48 PM

I strongly think these realistic gun games that many play for hours on end give the feeling of getting even, and that will show them, and some unstable minds take to reality. These games are not good and some things have to be stopped at the root.

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1 reply
luvshluxa Mike's Wife April 04 2014 at 12:57 PM

Blaming video games? I will blame parents before a video game. I grew up watching Moe Howard run bow saws across Larry Fine's head, and because my parents didn't raise an idiot, I never thought it would be fun to do that to my friends or anyone else. Sick is sick and that's all there is. The prblem is diagnosing it, and unfortunately having to deal with lawyers suing if you're wrong... and getting the person the help they need. But to blame a video game?

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1 reply
violetvalerieviolet luvshluxa April 04 2014 at 1:09 PM

yea they dont want to blame guns so video game it is. hard to kill 3 people and wound a bunch of others while chasing them down with a video game but that is the logic.

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LewTag April 04 2014 at 3:42 PM

Let's face it, the Army recruits and admits some marginal people to begin with and when you add in mental cases with faulty treatment and diagnosis there is no telling how many ticking bombs there are among the military...I was in the USAF during Korea and I recall a few troubled troops who were expelled and sent home...when you add in the lack of Army empathy and support for this grieving son who lost his mother - why was he denied adequate leave for her funeral?? - it is not a big stretch to see that he was stricken with anger and since he could not get to the general in charge he took it out on the nearest targets...mistaken targets but nevertheless rational behavior from the viewpoint of his troubled soul seeking closure through revenge...if he were a true criminal he would not have committed suicide...the fine print about Ambien includes warning about anger and suicidiation...so maybe the Army psychiatrists and generals will one day realize everyone has their breaking points and get soldiers in crisis adequate help even if their pride and fear prevents them from asking for it...

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1 reply
riognach LewTag April 04 2014 at 4:20 PM

The word would be "suicidality". Unfortunatley the Army cannot always honour a soldier's breaking point. the point of the US Army, as my career Army dad used to say, is to keep marching. Soldiers are excpected to suck it up and put the good of the country above their own feelings. And it's not just the Army. My close friend and colleague had to take a final exam when we were in nursing school on the afternoon of the day in which her mother was buried. She went from the cemetary to the college because the professor and dean refused to reschdule the exam, even with proof of her mom's death and burial. If everyone becomes a special case, the world falls apart waiting for everyone to get it together. And my friend? She got an A on the exam, and then took time to grieve. This guy obviously was too ill to do that. Thre's an old saying which applies to people in many careers; if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. If I believed in the traditional concept of hell, I would say that Ivan Lopez is in a somewhat hotter place just now...

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Brinksouth April 04 2014 at 12:47 PM

Prescription drugs often have terrible side effects. The TV ads detail those side negative side effects while showing a smiling, happy person on the drug. It is doubtful if it is know what the side effects are, of taking more then one drug at a time. A common practice today. Admittedly, many patients do benefit from prescribed meds, but it must be acknowledged that there are also many patients who are over medicated. While, the focus on mass killings has been on the gun used in the killing, perhaps, it would be wise to take a serious look at the use of doctor prescribed drugs. This particulate shooter was on prescribed drugs for depression while performing his assigned duties as normal, when he clearly was not of normal thinking. An Army General reported that soldiers are committing suicide at an alarming rate. The Army reports one or more suicides weekly. Likely, they were all on prescribed medication. The medical community needs to take an active role in reducing the amount of prescriptions they write and employ other methods and resources to nurse a patient back to good health. We all pretty much believe that the negative side effects only happen to a small percentage of "other" people...not us. The families involved in these shootings no doubt have found that the side effects can effect those not on the drugs.

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bonbis448 April 04 2014 at 3:32 PM

If he was on Prozac, I would like to know, the military gave me too much and I was having rage moments, I did not have access to a gun. but it could have been bad, I took myself off the drug.
They say Ambien, but depression is not treated with Ambien. His record shows = he had more medicine than we are being told.

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