Ivan Hurtado Lopez had just left class when the first phone calls and text messages started to come in Wednesday.
“Hey, where you?”
“Are you in Arizona?”
“Are you OK?”
He was in Phoenix, where he lives with his wife and their 9-year-old daughter. Lopez attends a refrigeration technical school there, and he was planning to start studying when he got home that afternoon.
But the 32-year-old used to live in Fort Hood, where he was stationed from September 2007 to March 2011 before he retired from the Army. So when U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, announced on national TV that the suspect in a shooting at the military installation was named Ivan Lopez, reporters started calling his relatives.
Some websites posted a photo of him that had run with a feature story in the Killeen (Texas) Daily Herald in 2010.
Media outlets in Tucson, Ariz., where he lived for several years after leaving the military, went to his house and asked his wife whether she knew that “Mr. Lopez was shot and killed.”
His daughter, who was within earshot, started to cry.
Lopez said it was a one in a million chance that two Ivan Lopezes, both Army specialists who went to Iraq and both in their early 30s, were both from Fort Hood. It was the other one — Ivan A. Lopez — who officials say opened fire there, killing three and injuring 14 before killing himself Wednesday.
Back in Arizona, Ivan Hurtado Lopez shrugged off the mistaken identification, patiently explaining who he was to the TV and newspaper reporters who called.
He served in the Marine Corps in 2001 and did two tours in Iraq before joining the Army. He’s been married for more than 12 years. He was at Fort Hood in 2009 when Nidal Hasan shot and killed 13 people there.
Lopez said he still feels the repercussions of that shooting, and even though he wasn’t in Fort Hood this week, he said he’s feeling the effects of this attack, too. The confusion over whether he was involved in the rampage has compounded that.
The Austin American-Statesman didn’t identify him as the gunman.
Phone calls from unknown numbers lasted until 5 a.m. Thursday, he said. Television cameras camped outside his sister-in-law’s house. The word “monster” appears online with his photo.
He said the media should get its facts straight before publishing. Reporters don’t think about what they’re doing, he said. And then it’s too late.
“My name is my name,” he said. “That’s all I have.”
“I don’t want to be known as the Fort Hood shooter.”