New details came to light about Wednesday’s deadly shooting at Fort Hood, including that a heated argument may have immediately preceded the attack.
In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Lieutenant General Mark A. Milley, the commanding general at Fort Hood, said there is a “strong possibility’’ that Specialist Ivan Lopez, the alleged gunman, got into a “verbal altercation’’ with other soldiers before opening fire. The shooting killed four people, including the gunman, and left 16 others injured.
Milley also reiterated that Lopez had been diagnosed with several mental health illnesses, and said that he believed Lopez’s health was the “underlying causal factor.’’
The press conference also gave a clearer picture of the series of events that took place yesterday, including the swift response time by military police.
According to Milley’s statement, two injured soldiers placed the first 911 call at 4:16 p.m. on Wednesday, roughly two minutes after the shooting began in the 49th Transportation Headquarters building. It took only four minutes after the call was placed for military police to respond. It was at that time that a female military police officer engaged the accused gunman in small arms fire at distance of about 20 feet. Milley said it remains unclear whether the officer hit him, and that the only wound he was aware of was a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
Milley confirmed that the weapon Lopez allegedly used, a .45 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, was purchased on March 1 at a nearby store called Guns Galore. The Associated Press then reported that Guns Galore “is where Nidal Hasan purchased the gun and high-capacity magazines he used to kill 13 people in a 2009 rampage at Fort Hood.’’
Milley also said that the gunman did not appear to have specific targets in the shooting, but that the investigation is still ongoing.
While many of the injured victims are still recovering, Milley said four of the wounded soldiers had been released as of around 4 p.m.
He added that the number of injuries and fatalities might have been higher if not for the actions of several people on the base. Milley detailed the actions of a chaplain working in the 49th Transportation Headquarters building who broke windows in order to help some of the injured get to safety. He also praised the military officer who engaged the gunman and the doctors at Darnall Army Medical Center and Scott & White Memorial Hospital who treated the patients with “exceptional’’ care.
The investigation into the shooting is ongoing and military officials expect to hold another press conference at some point on Friday.