On March 1, US Specialist Ivan Lopez walked into Guns Galore on the southern outskirts of Killeen, Texas, and bought a .
45-calibre Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol.
Around the same time, an Army psychiatrist gave the 34-year-old native of Puerto Rico a full evaluation. Lopez was undergoing treatment for depression, anxiety and sleeping disorders, and he had been prescribed a number of drugs, including the sleep aid Ambien.
His psychiatrist, however, concluded that he posed no threat of violence, either to himself or to others, Army Secretary John McHugh said Thursday.
A month later, he opened fire at the headquarters of his unit, the 49th Transportation Movement Control Battalion, which he had just joined in February. He killed three soldiers and wounded 16 others before turning the gun on himself Wednesday.
The identities of two of the slain soldiers emerged Thursday: Puerto Rican soldier Carlos Lazaney, 38, and Sergeant Timothy Owens, 37, of Illinois. Both were identified by family members to media outlets.
On Thursday, investigators continued to piece together the puzzle of Lopez, who according to senior military leaders, was “a very experienced soldier” who had served two overseas tours during more than a decade of military service.
Fort Hood Commander Lieutenant General Mark Milley said on Thursday there was a “strong indication” that the rampage was preceded by an argument with another soldier. Yet Milley concluded that there wasn’t evidence that Lopez was targeting specific soldiers.
And despite the psychiatrist’s evaluation that he posed no threat, Milley said on Thursday that Lopez’s mental state led to the shooting rampage. Had medical professionals determined that Lopez was a threat, they would have been empowered to inquire about any gun purchases and ask him to turn in any personal weapons, according to Fort Hood policy.
Meanwhile, more examples of heroism among the soldiers targeted by Lopez emerged. Milley said the first 911 calls were made by two soldiers after they had been shot and wounded.
During the rampage, a chaplain, who Milley declined to name, helped shelter soldiers, breaking a window and allowing soldiers to escape safely.
And the rampage, which began in his unit’s headquarters, ended when a military police officer fired at Lopez in a parking lot after he drew his weapon on her. At that point, Lopez killed himself with a gunshot to the head, Milley said. It’s unclear if he was hit by any of the officer’s shots.
Fort Hood officials said a memorial service for the victims would be held early next week.
For many in the Fort Hood area, the shooting brought back unwelcome memories of the November 2009 mass shooting, in which 13 were killed and more than 30 wounded. Survivors of that attack called for increased security measures at military installations.
Last month, a panel convened after last year’s deadly shooting at the Washington Navy Yard called for just such an overhaul.
“For decades, the Department (of Defense) has approached security from a perimeter perspective,” former Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Stockton told reporters.
“That approach is outmoded, it is broken, and the department needs to replace it. What the Department of Defense should do is build security from within.”