All-clear sirens have sounded at Fort Hood as the lockdown was lifted hours after a deadly shooting at the Texas Army post.
An Iraq War veteran being treated for mental illness opened fire Wednesday on fellow service members at the military base, killing three people and wounding 16 before committing suicide at the same post where more than a dozen people were slain in a 2009 attack, authorities said.
The shooter apparently walked into a building and began firing a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol. He then got into a vehicle and continued firing before entering another building.
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, according to Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, senior officer on the base.
The gunman, who 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, Milley said.
The married suspect had arrived at Fort Hood in February from another base in Texas. He was taking medication, and there were reports that he had complained after returning from Iraq about suffering a traumatic brain injury, Milley said. The commander did not elaborate.
The gunman was never wounded in action, according to military records, Milley said.
There was no indication the attack was related to terrorism, Milley said.
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 he was named Ivan Lopez but offered no other details.
The Texas Army base was the scene of a mass shooting in 2009. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 wounded in what was the deadliest attack on a domestic military installation in history.
Injured people were being treated at the post’s Carl R. Darnall Medical Center and other local hospitals on Wednesday.
Outside the base, some 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-wracking 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 base 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, but he couldn’t even tell her exactly what was going on, only that the base was locked down.
“I’m still hearing conflicting stories about what happened and where the shooting was exactly,” Conover said, explaining that she still doesn’t know how close the incident was to her husband.
“I just want him to come home,” said Conover, who moved to Fort Hood with her husband and three daughters two years ago.
The President Speaks
In Chicago, President Barack Obama vowed that investigators will get to the bottom of the shooting, seeking to reassure the nation whose sense of security once again has been shaken by mass violence
In a hastily arranged statement, Obama said he and his team were following the situation closely but that details about what happened at the sprawling Army post were still fluid. He said the shooting brought back painful memories of the 2009 attack.
Obama reflected on the sacrifices that troops stationed at Fort Hood have made including during multiple tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“They serve with valor, they serve with distinction and when they’re at their home base, they need to feel safe,” Obama said. “We don’t yet know what happened tonight, but obviously that sense of safety has been broken once again.”
The President spoke without notes or prepared remarks in the same room of a steakhouse where he had just met with about 25 donors at a previously scheduled fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee. White House officials quickly pushed tables to the side of the room to make room for Obama to speak to the nation.