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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.

VICTIMS IMPROVING

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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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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elvisguyallen April 04 2014 at 2:44 PM

So sorry for the families.

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fptpi April 04 2014 at 12:31 PM

This guy was a full time military personnel. I don't know what law could have been passed that would have stopped him from buying a gun. If he was being treated for PTSD, was he in any DATA base for it that the gun dealer had access to? If not, what could another new law do. Maybe confining him on base till his PTSD status was determined. At any rate, this is the US Army's problem and its not a new one either. I think that every base should have a "Reactionary Unit" made up of Special Ops soldiers placed at or near various entrances to the base in addition to the MP's. These soldiers would perform their usual duties but be armed at all times and rotate the people and locations frequently. The sole function would be to deal with an active shooter threat
if one comes up while doing their other jobs.
This being unarmed is nothing new. I was in the Marines in the late 60's and I never had a loaded weapon unless at the range. I didn't even have a rifle cause it was locked in the armory.
Some bases in Vietnam, you couldn't even have a magazine in the weapon unless under attack. You had your weapon and ammo, but they could not be together, unless your on guard duty, or some post that called for a loaded weapon.
Basically, any gun free zone is not a safe zone from guns. Its more apt to be a target. Even a nut job knows better than to go to a place where everyone has a gun on them to start a shooting.

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1 reply
Flakatb fptpi April 04 2014 at 12:40 PM

It hasn't changed. But the new mentality of the barracks being the soldiers home and they are entitled to provacy prevent the NCO from checking for unauthorized weapons. While trying to protect the soldiers rights to privacy it is opening the door to other problems. Fort Hood has guards posted at every entrance yet he managed to get the weapona and ammo on post. No one checks the cars entering for weapons. As long as he had a sticker that stated he was authorized to drive on post he was waved through.

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shushirice April 04 2014 at 1:18 PM

Having used the VA on occasion in the past I can tell you in my experience that the girl at the front desk is always very nice until you get in back where you meet the most arrogant bastards you can imagine. That's my experience. Are they all like that. Probably not, but doctors usually don't gravitate to the VA unless they haven't made it on the outside. And some of the clerks I've run into should have their little asses whooped. I'm 78 and that's my opinion whether you like it or not.

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1 reply
larry shushirice April 04 2014 at 1:41 PM

IF YOU LIVE IN BALTIMORE I CAN SEE THAT HAPPENING, YOU CAN ALWAYS FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE PATIENT ADVOCATE. THEY MUST RESPOND TO YOUR REQUEST. ITS YOUR RIGHT AS A PATIENT.

I LIVE IN MARYLAND AND GO TO MARTINSBURG VA CENTER AND I HAD A BAD EXPERIENCE WITH A PERSON AND FILED A COMPLAINT AND GOT RESULTS. SHE WAS A SECRETARY ONE DAY AND THEN PLACED BACK IN THE LAUNDRY DEPARTMENT WHERE SHE CAME FROM.

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JIM April 04 2014 at 12:31 PM

I can tell you some of the problems with both Fort Hood shootings, it is the army itself. They knew Hasan was a very high risk and should have put him out of the army instead of sending him over to Hood without even a warning given to their command there. And now we have another shooting, after the army sent this guy over to Hood to have him put out of the army when he was stationed at Bliss, over in El Paso. Maybe the idiots who are trying to run the army should keep these troubled people where they are until they can figure out what they are going to do with them, and stop sending soldiers who have a problem somewhere else so another person has to deal with it. So the problem is still the idiots at the top not doing what is right. If they actually did their jobs maybe we would have a lot more soldiers still alive and well, and not littering up the hospitals and cemetaries because some moron is too stupid and lazy to do their job well.

And now the Army's knee jerk reaction is to have all their personnel go thru mandatory training and have all new safety inspections of everybody's car and work area to make sure they don't have a weapon hiding in there, and go thru even more training they make up. Again, maybe some of the morons who decide to just ship these troubled people somewhere else were actually held accountable for it, and charged for the murders and injuries of the people whom their decision impacted, maybe this would stop.

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drtmalek April 04 2014 at 12:30 PM

Mental health care is inadequate and a buch of crooks running American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology for profit, artficially keeping the supply down in order to generate more revenue. Insurance companies don't give a damn and the government is ineffectual.

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caperson April 04 2014 at 12:30 PM

This is not about gun control, it is about the lack of available, quality mental health care in this country......not just for our military men and women but for all.

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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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dotthurman April 04 2014 at 12:29 PM

Come on there is no actual motive for his actions outside of being stone crazy and willing to die infamously. I so wish the media stop reporting on these insane murderer. Stop giving these insane people a worldstage die or alive..

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pdqpress2 April 04 2014 at 12:28 PM

So the army is looking for a motive, don't make me laugh! We send our young men and women to fight wars that are unpopular and yet we persist in doing this. Do taxpayers want their taxes used to pay for war and support corrupt regimes? I don't think so. We are fighting an enemy which as little or no regard for life, they are nearly impossible to identify until the shooting starts and then to add insult to injury, when our troops come home the VA treats them like ****! The Russians could not win and were smart enough to lick their wounds and get out but not Uncle Sap. How many lives and how much money do we have to spend before we realize we can no longer be the watchdogs of the world? Bring the troop home, give them the benefits they deserve and stop the craziness....

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1 reply
magikman1946 pdqpress2 April 04 2014 at 12:31 PM

That be a lot of incoherent nonsense, old bean. But rave on.

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