FORT HOOD, Texas (AP/KXAN) – Thursday morning people made their way back to work with heavy hearts after a soldier opened fire Wednesday afternoon killing three people and wounding 16 others at Fort Hood. The gunman later turned the gun on himself and committed suicide at the same post where more than a dozen people were slain in a 2009 attack, authorities said.
Counseling has been made available at 9 a.m. for anyone on the post at the Family Life Training Center at the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel on 31st Street and Tank Destroyer Boulevard. The 13th ESC Chapel on 67th Street will be open all night for those who want to pray.
On Wednesday, 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 car 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 post.
Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin made a public statement on Thursday morning and said he was angry when he heard about the shooting.
“This happens all over the United States and all over the world, it’s not unique to Fort Hood,” Corbin said. “It just seems sadder when it happens here because these guys have been to war and come back and then get killed.”
For a town and a base who’ve been through this experience twice, this serves as little solace. Moving forward, Mayor Corbin said Killeen needs to do as a community.
“I think we need to have the churches start raising our children, I think children need to be raised with value so when they grow into young men and women they will have respect for life, for authority, for whats right and wrong.”
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.
The suspect in Wednesday’s shooting had arrived at Fort Hood in February from another post. 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 added.
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, 34, but offered no other details.
Late on 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 post 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.
In an update Wednesday night from Baylor Scott and White Health Wednesday evening, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Glen Couchman addressed questions and gave an update on the injured treated there. The hospital was treating seven men and one woman, and a ninth patient was en route.
When asked about the extent of the injuries, Couchman said they ranged from stable to quite critical with wounds located on the extremities, chest, head and neck. Two patients has undergone surgery and were in the intensive care unit.
Couchman also said the facility practices mass casualty drills several times a year, and they were prepared.
“It always takes a while to figure out how many are coming and where they’re coming from,” he continued.
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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 post 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 will get to the bottom of a shooting, seeking to reassure the nation whose sense of security once again has been shaken by mass violence.
The post was the scene of a mass shooting in November 2009.
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.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.