UK & World News

  • 4 April 2014, 4:43

Fort Hood Gunman 'Showed No Signs Of Violence'

The Fort Hood gunman had shown no signs of violence or suicidal tendencies before he opened fire at the US Army base, officials have said.

Investigators are still trying to determine why the soldier - 34-year-old Specialist Ivan Lopez - killed three and injured 16 others before turning the gun on himself.

Lieutenant General Mark Milley said there is a "strong possibility" Lopez had a verbal altercation with another soldier or soldiers prior to the shooting.

But he urged caution against speculating on any possible motive until the investigation had run its course and said there was no indication he targeted specific troops.

On Thursday, investigators searched Lopez's home and questioned his wife, said a base spokesman.

Suzie Miller, who lived in the same apartment complex as Lopez, said few in the area knew him and his wife well because they had just moved in a few weeks ago.

She said: "I'd see him in his uniform heading out to the car every morning. He was friendly to me and a lot of us around here."

Earlier, US Army Secretary John McHugh said there was no indication that Lopez was involved with any extremist organisations.

The Army specialist had sought help for depression, anxiety and other problems, and had been undergoing an assessment to determine whether he had post-traumatic stress disorder, Lt Gen Milley said.

Lopez was from the US territory of Puerto Rico and joined the island's National Guard in 1999.

He went on a peace and security mission to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in the mid-2000s, and left the National Guard in 2010 to join the Army, said a spokeswoman for the Puerto Rico National Guard.

He arrived at Fort Hood in February from another military base in Texas, and was assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) at Fort Hood, which is a logistics and support unit.

He served for four months in Iraq in 2011, but did not see combat, officials said.

He was not wounded in action while serving overseas, but self-reported a traumatic brain injury when he returned to the US.

"He was not a wounded warrior," said Lt Gen Milley, the senior officer at Fort Hood.

"He was not wounded in action, to our records, no Purple Heart, not wounded in action in that regard," he said, referring to the military decoration awarded to those wounded or killed while serving.

According to Lt Gen Milley's account, Lopez walked into a building and began firing a .45-calibre semi-automatic pistol, which was not registered with post authorities as required.

He then got into a vehicle and continued firing before entering another building, but he was eventually confronted by military police in a parking lot.

At that point the gunman put his gun to his head and pulled the trigger a final time.

The incident was the second deadly shooting at Fort Hood in five years after 13 people were killed at the base in 2009.

President Barack Obama said he was "heartbroken" that the base had suffered again.

"Obviously this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago. We know these families; we know their incredible service to this country and the sacrifices they make," the president said.

Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan has been convicted of the 2009 shooting, which also injured 30 people, and he faces the death penalty.

In statements to the judge, Hasan, an American-born Muslim, suggested he believed the attack was justified as a jihad against the US military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.