FORT HOOD, Texas (CBS Houston/AP) — A soldier opened fire at Fort Hood, killing 3 and wounding 16 before taking his own life, says Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, commander of III Corps.
Pentagon sources tell CBS News that the shooter was a soldier — identified as 34-year-old Ivan Lopez — and that the shooting stemmed from a soldier dispute.
Milley would not confirm the name, pending notification of his family, but said he was assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command.
The gunman had served 4 months in Iraq in 2011 and was being treated for depression and anxiety, and was being analysed for post-traumatic stress syndrome, according to the general.
Gen. Milley said the soldier used a .45 cal. Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistol that was purchased recently from an off base location.
While the exact sequence of events is still being investigated, it appears the soldier arrived on base with a concealed handgun, fired shots into a building then got into a car and opened fire while driving. He then got out of the car, walked into another building and shot at people inside.
By that time, military police had arrived and engaged the gunman. Gen. Milley said a female MP confronted the soldier, who then pointed his pistol at his head and pulled the trigger.
So far authorities have no motive for the shooting spree, they do not believe it was related to terrorism, though could not rule that out entirely.
The general said the soldier has a family living close to the base.
The base was ordered on lockdown and everyone in Fort Hood was ordered to “shelter in place” during the shooting.
A witness identified only as “Tyler” told KCEN-TV that soldiers and civilians were escorted out of buildings by police at gunpoint and emergency vehicles were rushing around the base, including several ambulances during the incident.
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 all clear siren was sounded about 5 hours after the shooting.
President Barack Obama said that “we’re heartbroken” another shooting took place at Fort Hood.
“I want to just assure all of us we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened,” Obama said.
Obama continued: “The folks there have sacrificed so much on behalf of our freedom. Many of the people there have been on 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. We don’t yet know what happened tonight, but obviously that sense of safety has been broken once again.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called it a “terrible tragedy.”
“When we have these kinds of tragedies on our bases, something’s not working,” Hagel said.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said many questions remained about the shooting and the focus was on support the victims and their families. “This is a community that has faced and overcome crises with resilience and strength,” he added.
A spokesman for Scott & White Hospital said doctors were treating 9 in its ICU, 3 of them are listed in critical condition.
Social media exploded after the initial reports of the shooting, with many Fort Hood soldiers describing what was happening in side and families trying to reach loved ones stationed at the base.
Fort Hood is one of the largest military installations in the world. It is home of III Corps, 1st Cavalry Division, First Army Divsion West, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and many other units.
Texas A&M Central Texas in Killeen cancelled evening and night classes in response to the situation at Fort Hood.
Several elementary schools were also locked down after word of the shooting broke.
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.
Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan was convicted and sentenced to death last year in the Nov. 5, 2009, attack on his fellow soldiers as they waited inside a crowded building at Fort Hood. Soldiers there were waiting to get vaccines and routine paperwork after recently returning from deployments or while preparing to go to Afghanistan and Iraq.
According to testimony during Hasan’s trial last August, Hasan walked inside carrying two weapons and several loaded magazines, shouted “Allahu Akbar!” — Arabic for “God is great!” — and opened fire with a handgun.
Witnesses said he targeted soldiers as he walked through the building, leaving pools of blood, spent casings and dying soldiers on the floor. Photos of the scene were shown to the 13 officers on the military jury.
The rampage ended when Hasan was shot in the back by Fort Hood police officers outside the building, which left him paralyzed from the waist down. Hasan is now on death row at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.
After that shooting, the military tightened security at bases nationwide. Those measures included issuing security personnel long-barreled weapons, adding an insider-attack scenario to their training, and strengthening ties to local law enforcement, according to Peter Daly, a vice admiral who retired from the Navy in 2011. The military also joined an FBI intelligence-sharing program aimed at identifying terror threats.
In September, a former Navy man opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard, leaving at least 13 people dead, including the gunman. After that shooting, Hagel ordered the Pentagon to review security at all U.S. defense installations worldwide and examine the granting of security clearances that allow access to them.