news.com.auFemale police officer was ‘heroic’ in confrontation with alleged Fort Hood gunman Ivan Lopez
4 hours ago April 03, 2014 11:31PM
AN IRAQ War veteran being treated for mental illness was the gunman who opened fire at Fort Hood, killing three people and wounding 16 others before committing suicide, in an attack on the same Texas military base where more than a dozen people were slain in 2009, authorities said.
His shooting spree came to an end when a female military police officer drew her weapon on the gunman, who then shot himself in the head.
“It was clearly heroic what she did,” Fort Hood’s senior officer, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, said.
The shooter was identified as Ivan Lopez by Texas congressman Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. But the congressman offered no other details, and the military declined to identify the gunman until his family members had been notified.
Lopez apparently walked into a building Wednesday afternoon and began firing a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol. He then got into a vehicle and continued firing before entering another building, but he was eventually confronted by military police in a car park, according to Milley, senior officer on the base.
As he came within 6m 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, Lt. Gen Milley said.
“She did her job and she did exactly what we would expect from a US military police,” Lt. Gen Milley said.
Within hours of the Wednesday attack, investigators started looking into whether the man’s combat experience had caused lingering psychological trauma. The gunman had sought help for depression, anxiety and other problems.
Among the possibilities investigators planned to explore was whether a fight or argument on the base triggered the attack.
“We have to find all those witnesses, the witnesses to every one of those shootings, and find out what his actions were, and what was said to the victims,” said a US law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorised to discuss the case by name.
The official said authorities would begin by speaking with the man’s wife, and expected to search his home and any computers he owned.
The gunman, who served in Iraq for four months in 2011, had been undergoing an assessment before the attack to determine if he had post-traumatic stress disorder, Lt. Gen. Milley said.
He 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, Lt. Gen. Milley said. The commander did not elaborate.
The gunman was never wounded in action, according to military records, and there was no indication the attack was related to terrorism, Lt. Gen. Milley said. His weapon had been recently purchased in the local area and was not registered to be on the base, Lt. Gen. Milley said.
Those injured were taken to the base hospital and other local hospitals. At least three of the nine patients were listed in critical condition.
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