US officials identify alleged Fort Hood shooter as Ivan Lopez | News | DW | 03.04.2014
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US officials identify alleged Fort Hood shooter as Ivan Lopez

Officials in the US have released the identity of the man believed to be behind a shooting in Fort Hood, Texas on Wednesday. A motive for the 34-year-old suspect Ivan Lopez has not been identified.

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Fort Hood gunman named

The United States Army named Ivan Lopez as the suspect behind Wednesday's shooting that claimed the lives of three people. The 34-year-old was from Puerto Rico - a commonwealth of the United States - and had enlisted in 2008.

Described as a shy and laid-back man by those who knew him, Army Secretary John McHugh told a Senate committee on Thursday that Lopez showed no "signs of likely violence either to himself or to others" and had a clean record. McHugh, a former Congressman, is the US Army's senior civilian representative.

Lopez joined the National Guard in Puerto Rico in 1999, leaving some 10 years later to enlist in the US Army. He then completed a four-month tour as a truck driver in Iraq in 2011.

"His records show no wounds, no direct involvement in combat, no report of injury that might lead us to get a battle-related TBI (traumatic brain injury) or such," McHugh told the Senate panel.

Investigators said that the incident on Wednesday showed no connections with terrorism. However, McHugh said that nothing was being ruled out.

"We're not making any assumptions [and are] going to keep an open mind and an open investigation," he said, adding that "possible extremist involvement is still being looked at very, very carefully."

'Strong possibility' of altercation

A possible motive remained unclear a day later, with officials pointing to the only indications of distress from the alleged shooter: mental health issues. Lopez had been undergoing an assessment for PTSD and had already been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, for which he had been prescribed medication, including the sleeping pill Ambien.

A senior officer at the army base, Lieutenant General Mark Milley told reporters on Thursday that there was "very strong evidence" that there had been a "verbal altercation" in the immediate lead up to the shooting.

At approximately 4 p.m. local time (21:00 UTC) on Wednesday, Lopez allegedly opened fire on military personnel in a building at Fort Hood army base. He then drove to a second location on base, once again shooting at personnel inside. Military police then engaged the attacker in the parking lot, where he took his own life.

Three people - all military personnel - were killed in the shooting. Doctors on base and at Scott&White Memorial Hospital, located roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Fort Hood in the city of Temple, were treating the 16 injured.

Fort Hood officials lifted the lockdown of the military installation at roughly 8 p.m. local time after securing facilities there. They had originally feared other gunmen remained at large.

The gun used in the shooting was a .45-caliber semi-automatic weapon. The army said it had been purchased privately and had not been registered with the base as per regulation.

Fort Hood was the site of a mass shooting in 2009 when an army psychiatrist shot dead 13 people and injured 31 others.

Wednesday's incident wasn't the first to occur at a military facility over the last year. In September, a civilian contractor opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard in the US capital, killing 12 people.

kms/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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