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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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shandy1037 April 04 2014 at 12:14 PM

The Army as well as a lot of other institutions have a history of going overboard with political correctness. The first time that any mental illness surfaces the individual needs to be discharged and monitored. Its the same thing that battered women have been through over the decades. They couldn't get any help until they were dead or maimed. We must be proactive with mental problems and protect the general public. Treatment an sympathy for the patient comes after that.

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1 reply
RoBert shandy1037 April 04 2014 at 12:20 PM

If you stay in the Army long enough you will develop some sort of mental illness.

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bdgrizcp April 04 2014 at 12:15 PM

Let's face it: the US military has some issues and not enough funding to fix it. Whatever the motivation, the Pentagon needs to peel back a few layers of bureaucracy and get to work. Yes, I've seen the backlog of cases. I also understand that PTSD is hard to diagnose and easy to fake. It's a disorder that is all symptoms in little in terms of actual medical evidence. It's just sad.

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Tom April 04 2014 at 12:08 PM

"US Army seeks motive for Fort Hood shooting rampage"
How about the fact that he had suffered from depression and other mental problems. DUH. Lets spend alot of money to get the answer that they already have.

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2 replies
socaldfun Tom April 04 2014 at 12:23 PM

Exactly. When will people realize that trying to ascribe rational motives to these types of rampages is pointless? People who go on shooting rampages are not sane. It is not a sane resolution to anything. Serious mental illness is behind every mass murder. Spending money and time trying to ascribe motive is a serious misuse of resources - it's totally misguided.

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1 Tom April 04 2014 at 12:35 PM

Yes, I agree with you totally. Instead of spend and giving away money to every country and illegals; give to the ones that are entitled to these funds

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flash April 04 2014 at 12:28 PM

Some of these bases have hostile environments. Low pay, low morale. Take a man already down d/t 2 recent deaths of family members, argue about how much time he is allowed at home to grieve, and then wonder how and why he blew his stack. Soldiers yes, but humans have limits.

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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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porchorse April 04 2014 at 12:17 PM

Whether he had an argument with someone prior to the shooting is irrelevant. He purchased the gun at an off-base store prior to that day, and he deliberately brought it to the base from home that day. Any argument that may or may not have happened had no bearing on it. His actions were clearly premeditated.

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edhbenjamin April 04 2014 at 12:22 PM

Of course tragic; however, looking for answers to an unanswerable question is futile, a genuine waste of time and only generates more pain (and, unfortunately, money and notariety for the media involved.....there is a real conflict of interest when reporting on any "newsworthy" tragedy). The fact that it is Fort Hood is NOTHING MORE THAN COINCIDENCE, no different than the chance occurrence of doppelgangers, totally unrelated and even living in different parts of the country or the world.

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brad April 04 2014 at 12:28 PM

I always find it amazing that a lone insane man can dominate the national news if he chooses to, and the media piles on the new shiny ball and makes it as big of a story as if the Japanese just bombed Pearl Harbor again. In the mean time, the media ignores the anti gun Democratic Senator Leland Yee who was just arrested for gun running and Mafia ties. Am I alone here thinking that there is a strong anti gun media narrative being pushed on America?

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1 reply
magikman1946 brad April 04 2014 at 12:35 PM

The first job of the media is to protect the Democrat Party, so ignoring critical stories and hyping lesser ones is part of their operating procedure. Lie, misrepresent, distort the truth, make up crap out of whole cloth - all standard. Anything is acceptable as long as it harms Conservatism/tradition or pushes Leftist agendas.

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1 reply
bjlgkl1 magikman1946 April 04 2014 at 3:24 PM

And your response has what to do with the real story - a person with a supposed mental condition shot and killed people. Don't try to put your right wing spin on it.

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kingsvardo2 April 04 2014 at 12:20 PM

Just a thought, has anybody asked his wife possibly about the " BULLYING " angle since he did specifically search out his first couple of victims, then went out and randomly shot the rest? The military does have soldier peer harassment between soldiers because of different ethnic diversity, picking on the weaker, unstable persons and maybe with all the rest of the stuff happening to this soldier, he just had enough of the BS and sought out to use what he had been trained to do " KILL ". And the spic boricua had enough of it and decided to ended it for himself along with taking others out with him.... Just a thought y'all.....

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davidrpriest April 04 2014 at 12:26 PM

A motive? The guy is totally nuts. He is a murderer. There is no motive only insanity and evil.

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