FORT HOOD, Texas — Around 4 p.m. Wednesday, Spc. Ivan Lopez argued with fellow soldiers about his request for time off and how that request was being processed, a spokesman for the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command confirmed.
Minutes later, Lopez drew a semi-automatic handgun and began shooting, killing one soldier and wounding nine more in his unit’s administrative office, near the intersection of 72nd Street and Tank Destroyer Boulevard, Chris Grey said Monday in a news conference at Fort Hood.
But Lopez was not finished. He left the building, got into his car and started driving, shooting at two more soldiers standing behind the building and traveling very slowly in the wrong lane, headed toward his own office.
When he arrived, Lopez shot a soldier in the motor pool office, fatally wounding him, then walked to the vehicle bay area in the same building, where he wounded two more soldiers, Grey said.
Lopez got back in his car and drove toward the medical brigade building, Grey said. While driving, Lopez shot into the windshield of an approaching car, injuring the passenger, Grey said. Once he arrived at the medical brigade building, Lopez shot and wounded a soldier in the parking lot, killed the soldier manning the front desk and fired at other soldiers inside the building, wounding one more.
“At this point, we do not know why he entered the building, and we may never know why,” Grey said.
Still, Lopez continued, getting back into his car and driving to another transportation battalion building, where he approached a military policewoman who had responded to 911 calls, Grey said. The woman fired at Lopez, but missed, an autopsy confirmed. Lopez then turned the gun on himself, Grey said.
The rampage did not last long — about 8 minutes from the first 911 calls, Grey said — but ended with Lopez and three other soldiers dead and 16 more wounded. Five remain in area hospitals, but are improving, officials said. The others have returned to duty.
Lopez was being treated for anxiety and depression, among other health problems, and was undergoing a diagnosis for possible post-traumatic stress disorder, Army officials have said. However, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, said Friday that investigators believe the argument prompted the shooting, not any underlying mental health issues Lopez may have had.
Grey said investigators are still working to determine a motive.
Officials have not confirmed why Lopez was seeking a permissive temporary duty, or whether his request was denied. Permissive TDY may be authorized for career management, to participate in a court proceeding as a witness or juror, for house hunting, to attend civilian education programs, to attend meetings related to a soldier’s profession, to participate in sports or recreation activities, among other scenarios, according to the Army’s official leave policy. No reason was given as to why Lopez was seeking time off.
Stars and Stripes has filed an open records request for the leave policies specific to Lopez’s Fort Hood unit, the 49th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command.
Lopez reportedly was angry he had only received a short amount of leave to travel home to Puerto Rico for his mother’s funeral in November, when he was still assigned to the Fort Bliss, Texas-based 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment. Lopez was assigned to Fort Hood in February.
There is no evidence Lopez had ever been convicted of or involved in any other criminal activity, Grey said, and no evidence so far that he was connected to any terrorist or extremist groups.
Investigators have collected more than 235 pieces of evidence and canvassed more than 1,100 people in connection with the shooting, and have now released the crime scene back to Fort Hood, Grey said.
Fort Hood has opened behavioral health resources — usually only available to Tricare beneficiaries — to Army civilians and contractors associated with the shooting, and created a behavioral health hot line for anyone seeking help, said Col. Paul Reese, III Corps chief of current operations.
A memorial service for the victims of the shooting is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, and President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will attend.