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Gunman kills 3, wounds 16 at Fort Hood Army base

By Paul J. Weber & Will Weissert

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:38 a.m. HST, Apr 03, 2014

FORT HOOD, Texas >> A soldier opened fire Wednesday on fellow service members at the Fort Hood military base, killing three people and wounding 16 before committing suicide at the same post where more than a dozen people were slain in a 2009 attack, authorities said.

The shooter apparently walked into a building and began firing a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol that had been purchased recently. He then got into a vehicle and continued firing before entering another building and kept shooting.

He was eventually confronted by military police in a parking lot. As he came within 20 feet of an officer, the gunman put his hands up but then reached under his jacket and pulled out his gun. The officer drew her own weapon, and the suspect put his gun to his head and pulled the trigger a final time.

The gunman, who was married and served in Iraq for four months in 2011, had sought help for depression, anxiety and other problems. Before the attack, he had been undergoing an assessment to determine whether he had post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the senior officer on the base.

The suspect had arrived at Fort Hood in February from another base. He was taking medication, and there were reports that he had complained about suffering a traumatic brain injury, Milley said. He did not elaborate.

The gunman was not wounded in action, according to military records, Milley said.

There was no indication the attack was related to terrorism, Milley said.

The military declined to identify the gunman until his family members had been notified. Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the suspect was named Ivan Lopez but offered no other details.

Late Wednesday, investigators had already started looking into whether the gunman's combat experience caused lingering psychological trauma. Among the possibilities they planned to explore was whether a fight or argument on base triggered the shooting.

"We have to find all those witnesses, the witnesses to every one of those shootings, and find out what his actions were, and what was said to the victims," said a federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case by name.

The official said authorities would begin by speaking with Lopez's wife and also expected to search his home and any computers he owned.

The injured were taken to the base hospital and other local hospitals. Dr. Glen Couchman, chief medical officer at Scott and White Hospital in Temple, said the first four people admitted there had gunshots to chest, abdomen, neck and extremities. Their conditions ranged from stable to "quite critical."

The 2009 assault on Fort Hood was the deadliest attack on a domestic military installation in U.S. history. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 wounded.

After the shooting began, the post was locked down. Until an all-clear siren sounded hours later, relatives of soldiers waited for news about their loved ones.

Tayra DeHart, 33, said she had last heard from her husband, a soldier at the post, that he was safe, but that was hours earlier.

"The last two hours have been the most nerve-racking I've ever felt. I know God is here protecting me and all the soldiers, but I have my phone in my hand just hoping it will ring and it will be my husband," DeHart said.

Brooke Conover, whose husband was on base at the time of the shooting, said she found out about it while checking Facebook. She said she called her husband, Staff Sgt. Sean Conover, immediately to make sure he was OK.

"I just want him to come home," Conover said.

President Barack Obama vowed that investigators would get to the bottom of the shooting.

In a hastily arranged statement in Chicago, Obama reflected on the sacrifices that troops stationed at Fort Hood have made -- including enduring multiple tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"They serve with valor. They serve with distinction, and when they're at their home base, they need to feel safe," Obama said. "We don't yet know what happened tonight, but obviously that sense of safety has been broken once again."

The president spoke without notes or prepared remarks in the same room of a steakhouse where he had just met with about 25 donors at a previously scheduled fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee.

The November 2009 attack happened inside a crowded building where soldiers were waiting to get vaccines and routine paperwork after recently returning from deployments or preparing to go to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan was convicted and sentenced to death last year in that mass shooting. He said he acted to protect Islamic insurgents abroad from American aggression.

According to testimony during Hasan's trial last August, Hasan walked inside carrying two weapons and several loaded magazines, shouted "Allahu Akbar!" -- Arabic for "God is great!" -- and opened fire with a handgun.

The rampage ended when Hasan was shot in the back by Fort Hood police officers. He was paralyzed from the waist down and is now on death row at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

After that shooting, the military tightened security at bases nationwide. Those measures included issuing security personnel long-barreled weapons, adding an insider-attack scenario to their training and strengthening ties to local law enforcement. The military also joined an FBI intelligence-sharing program aimed at identifying terror threats.

In September, a former Navy man opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard, leaving 13 people dead, including the gunman. After that shooting, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the Pentagon to review security at all U.S. defense installations worldwide and examine the granting of security clearances that allow access to them.

Asked Wednesday about security improvements in the wake of other shootings at U.S. military bases, Hagel said, "Obviously when we have these kinds of tragedies on our bases, something's not working."

Associated Press writers Ramit Plushnick-Masti in Houston; Eric Tucker and Alicia Caldwell in Washington; Lolita C. Baldor in Honolulu; and Nedra Pickler in Chicago contributed to this report.

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juscasting wrote:
Not surprised, third one so far. First one was in 1991 at some hamburger joint just outside the base, some nut job drove his truck into the place and went trigger happy. I was stationed at Bliss in El Paso when it happened. Kileen get chok LoLo's avoid it like the plague!
on April 2,2014 | 01:02PM
thepartyfirst wrote:
Was this because of a video on youtube? Are they going to use this as an excuse for the shooting? How will this administration spin this in partner with the lame stream media?
on April 2,2014 | 03:23PM
bsdetection wrote:
Agree. Can't wait to see Fox News reveal that it's an Administration conspiracy to distract attention from Benghazi.
on April 2,2014 | 03:56PM
thepartyfirst wrote:
You might be on to something. This administration is full of lies.
on April 2,2014 | 07:19PM
bsdetection wrote:
Didn't have to wait long! Hannity and Allen West nailed it. The shooting happened because the President doesn't recognize the existence of evil in the world. And who would know more about mentally unbalanced soldiers than Allen West, who was thrown out of the Army himself for unauthorized gunplay?
on April 3,2014 | 06:33AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Happens when a big base is placed in gun happy state. Maybe you cannot possess on base, but you can have an arsenal off base, plus they don't search you like TSA.
on April 2,2014 | 01:11PM
GooglyMoogly wrote:
Slow down, Boss. They haven't said whether the shooter was military personnel or not. If they are, then your "gun happy" point is moot.
on April 2,2014 | 01:43PM
Mythman wrote:
I was one of our beloved moo sa leem friends trying to buy himself a ticket to paradise for killing infidels, that code for you and me.
on April 2,2014 | 01:59PM
SteveToo wrote:
Poor guy. Wait till he finds out it's not 70 virgins he's gonna meet, but 70 Virginians whow are gonna kick his but every day. LOL
on April 2,2014 | 02:31PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
No googs, doesn't matter who the shooter is, it's about the gun happy state.
on April 2,2014 | 03:34PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Latest reports, an argument started in a motor pool. In a gun happy state, only one way to end an argument.
on April 2,2014 | 04:05PM
HD36 wrote:
Wasn't gun happy enough, otherwise bystanders would have pulled out their guns and shot him after he killed the first person.
on April 2,2014 | 04:26PM
hanalei395 wrote:
In other words ... kill, or be killed.
on April 2,2014 | 04:35PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Oh yes everybody pull guns and start unloading. In a gun loving state ignorance is justifiable.
on April 2,2014 | 08:25PM
juscasting wrote:
No open canister law, legal gun racks in your truck, no gun permit needed, only state ID confirming you are Texas resident or military ID and over 18 to buy guns or tazers. And Juarez was a cool and fun place to party back in the days!
on April 2,2014 | 02:33PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Let's lkeep the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers tonight. There will be time for analyzing this tragic event later on as the facts become known.
on April 2,2014 | 04:57PM
false wrote:
One in five Army recruits never should have been allowed to enlist due to mental problems, according to news reports several weeks ago. Blame was put on the Army for lowering their standards in order to meet quotas during prior conflicts. Now, we all are paying the consequences.
on April 2,2014 | 06:28PM
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