Fort Hood shooter showed no clear warning signs: report

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 23, 2015 12:58 PM

By David Alexander

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The soldier who went on a deadly shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, last year was under great personal stress because of family deaths, a career setback and financial woes, but showed no signs he was about to explode, investigators said on Friday.

Army Specialist Ivan Lopez-Lopez, 34, opened fire at several locations on the sprawling military post on April 2, 2014, with a .45 caliber pistol, killing three soldiers and wounding 12 before taking his own life when confronted by military police.

Relatives told investigators Lopez-Lopez had been profoundly affected in the months before the shootings by the deaths of his grandfather and then his mother. Health problems had caused a career setback that forced him to shift from being an infantryman to a driver, the investigators said.

He also had just shifted to Fort Hood from another base and was having difficulty getting approval for temporary duty while settling his family in their new location. He did not qualify for the relaxed status because he had already rented an apartment and moved his household goods, investigators said.

Lieutenant General Joseph Martz, who led the team investigating the shooting and wrote the report released on Friday, said it was significant that the specialist's first victims were directly involved in processing his request.

Martz also said: "We find no indication in his medical and personnel records suggesting Specialist Lopez-Lopez was likely to commit a violent act."

The investigators found that his commanders would have had little way of knowing about the soldier's personal difficulties and providing help unless he chose to tell someone about them.

"Since risk assessment tools depend on self-reporting, they are subject to the soldier's willingness to identify risk factors accurately," the report said.

The report recommended that the Army look at ways to improve interaction between leaders and soldiers new to their commands. It also recommended examining whether soldiers should be required to register personally owned weapons with their command.

Lopez-Lopez, originally from Puerto Rico, had recently purchased the pistol used in the attack, the Army said.

Fort Hood officials are evaluating the recommendations and have improved on some measures in the report, which include safety and security and improving information flow, said Colonel Christopher Garver, a post spokesman.

The Lopez-Lopez shooting came four years after Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, killing 13 people and wounding 32.

(Reporting by David Alexander in Washington; Additional reporting by Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas; Editing by Christian Plumb and Andre Grenon)