Army specialist Ivan Lopez shot and killed three soldiers at Fort Hood yesterday afternoon before taking his own life. Sixteen others, all military personnel, were injured in the attack. The incident began at around 4:00pm when Lopez entered a building and opened fire with a .45-caliber handgun. He then got into his car, fired from the car, entered another building and again opened fire. When Lopez was confronted by a military police officer in a parking lot, he shot himself in the head. Lopez, a 34-year-old working as a truck driver on the base, was dressed in combat fatigues. The shootings reportedly took place in the 1st Medical Brigade area and the 49th Transportation Battalion area. The incident lasted 15 to 20 minutes. Everyone on the base was ordered to shelter in place, and the lockdown was not lifted until around 9:00pm.
Lopez had arrived at the base in February and served in Iraq for four months in a non-combat role in 2011. He was suffering from mental health problems including depression and anxiety. Lopez was not wounded in action but reportedly had a “self-diagnosed” traumatic brain injury. He was taking medication and undergoing assessment for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. He recently purchased the gun from a local dealer, and it was not registered to be on the base.
MSA's Research and Intelligence Analysis (RIA) Group has been monitoring this situation closely and has identified the following implications:
- It is unclear what the motive behind the attack was at this time. There is no indication of terrorism, but it has not yet been ruled out.
- There are some reports of an argument during the incident, but this is still being investigated.
- Personal weapons are not permitted on the army base, so Lopez carrying the gun could indicate that the attack was premeditated.
- However, reports of an argument could indicate that Lopez was set off by a disagreement with a fellow soldier.
- Due to the Lopez’s mental health history, yesterday’s shooting is again raising concerns about mental health illnesses and their link to active shooter incidents.
Additionally, this incident follows several other recent shootings at military installments on U.S. soil. Fort Hood was the site of a mass shooting on November 5, 2009 when Army Major and Psychiatrist Nidal Hasan killed 13 and wounded 32. Hasan claimed that he carried out the shooting to protect members of the Taliban from American soldiers set to deploy to Afghanistan. In September, a defense contractor and former Navy reservist shot and killed 13 people, including himself, at the Washington Navy Yard.
Regardless of motive, shootings are an increasingly viable method of attack due to their simplicity and impact in a condensed amount of time. The increased frequency of gun related violence is part of a nationwide trend that has sparked further development and coordination of security procedures. Given that this was the second active shooter situation at the base, there is likely to be a further review of security policies and potential gaps and vulnerabilities.
MSA Security's Research and Intelligence Analysis Group provides real-time intelligence on events and worldwide threats as they evolve.