Fort Hood shooter’s path retraced

Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor
Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

By Rae Jefferson
Staff Writer

U.S. Army officials retraced the steps of the gunman in Wednesday’s Fort Hood shooting at a press conference Monday afternoon.

The approximately eight-minute attack by Spc. Ivan A. Lopez, 34, left four dead, including himself, and 16 wounded. Lopez is believed to have fired more than 35 rounds of .45-caliber ball ammunition, one of which was a self-inflicted gunshot to the head that resulted in his death.

“We’ll only be releasing information that we feel confident will not jeopardize the ongoing criminal investigation,” said Chris Grey, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.

Grey said the attack was prefaced by a verbal altercation between Lopez and another soldier in his unit’s administrative office, building 39001, about the processing of his request for leave. Lopez then pulled out a .45-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun and opened fire, killing one and wounding 10 additional soldiers.

“The deceased soldier and at least one of the wounded soldiers had been involved in a verbal altercation with the subject prior to the shooting,” Grey said.

Lopez then exited the building and entered his privately owned vehicle parked on the building’s south side. Witnesses reported that Lopez began driving slowly into oncoming traffic and fired his weapon at two soldiers, wounding one.

He then stopped at building 40027, which contains his unit’s motor pool office and the vehicle bay area where he worked. He opened fire again and shot a soldier who died from his wounds at a later time. Lopez then went to the vehicle bay area and wounded two more soldiers.

Lopez re-entered his vehicle and, while driving, fired shots at two soldiers in an oncoming Jeep, wounding the passenger.

He then turned into the parking lot of building 33026, the medical brigade, and wounded a soldier walking outside of the building. Lopez came through the main entrance, shot and killed the soldier on duty at the front desk and wounded a second soldier.

“At this point, we do not know why he entered that building, and we may never know why,” Grey said.

After re-entering his vehicle, Lopez drove to the parking lot of building 39002, where he encountered a female Fort Hood military police officer, whose identity has not been released. Grey said a verbal exchange occurred between the officer and Lopez. The officer drew her weapon and fired one round. Autopsy reports show that Lopez was not struck by the officer’s gunfire. Lopez then died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“As we have released earlier, we only have one alleged subject connected to these shootings, and he is deceased,” Grey said.

Although no links have been found to terrorist activities, Grey said nothing has been ruled out in an effort to conduct a thorough investigation.

Lopez was known to suffer from depression and anxiety, was taking unknown medications and sustained a traumatic head injury away from combat. He was also under observation for posttraumatic stress disorder.

“We have not confirmed a definitive motive but are doing everything possible to do so,” Grey said.

He said the sequence presented during the press conference was based on findings of the investigation, which were based on more than 235 pieces of evidence, interviews with more than 1,100 people associated with the case, witness statement analysis, forensics, bullet trajectory analysis and examination and recreation of the crime scene, which is about the size of two city blocks.

Investigation officials have finished processing the area encompassed by the crime scene and released it back to Fort Hood officials, Grey said.

Various federal agencies, including the FBI and the Texas Rangers, joined the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command in the crime scene investigation, Grey said.

“We sincerely hope ­— all of us in law enforcement ­— that our efforts to diligently seek the truth will in some small way provide comfort to the loved ones of the deceased and wounded who are struggling through this difficult time,” Grey said.