US soldier kills 3 in army base shooting

Updated: 2014-04-04 07:13

By Agencies in Fort Hood, Texas and Houston (China Daily)

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At least 16 wounded before gunman kills himself in Ford Hood incident

A US soldier with mental health issues killed three people and injured at least 16 on Wednesday before shooting himself at an army base in Fort Hood, Texas, the site of a previous deadly rampage in 2009, US military officials said.

The soldier, who was being treated for depression and anxiety, went to two buildings on the base and opened fire before he was confronted by military police, Fort Hood commanding officer Lieutenant General Mark Milley said.

Milley confirmed to the media that the shooter, an Army specialist who had served in Iraq, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head from a .45-caliber pistol.

The gunman's motive remains unknown.

"At this time, there is no indication that this incident is related to terrorism," Milley told a news conference.

The rampage is the third shooting at a military base in the United States in about six months. Those incidents, along with a series of shootings in public places such as schools and malls, have sparked a national debate over gun-control regulations.

Security officials said preliminary information identified the gunman as Ivan Lopez, but Milley declined to identify the shooter, who is married, until his family was notified.

The suspect's wife was cooperating with law enforcement officers, an FBI official said, according to CNN.

The shooter had served four months in Iraq in 2011, Milley said, and was undergoing evaluation for post-traumatic stress disorder. He arrived at Fort Hood, one of the largest US Army bases, in February from another military installation.

The Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Texas, where some of the wounded were taken, said nine patients were in intensive care, three in critical condition and six in stable condition. Other victims were taken to Fort Hood's Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, near where the shooting took place.

US President Barack Obama said he was "heartbroken" that another shooting had occurred at the Fort Hood Army base.

"We are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened," Obama said. "We're heartbroken that something like this might have happened again."

The latest shooting at Fort Hood is throwing a spotlight on the US military's so-far frustrated efforts to secure its bases from potential shooters, who increasingly appear to see the facilities as attractive targets.

Milley said the shooter walked into one of the unit buildings, opened fire, then got into a vehicle and fired from there. He then went into another building and opened fire again, until he was engaged by Fort Hood law enforcement officers.

When confronted by a female military police officer, he shot himself with his semi-automatic weapon in the parking lot.

"He was approaching her at about 20 feet. He put his hands up, then reached under his jacket, pulled out the (.45) and she pulled out her weapon and then she engaged, and he then put the weapon to his head," Milley said.

One of the buildings housed medical brigade day-to-day operations, and the other served the administration of the transportation battalion. All the dead and wounded were military personnel.

As soon as the shooting broke out, police secured the base perimeter, emergency vehicles rushed to the scene, helicopters circled Fort Hood, and officers went from building to building searching for the shooter.

"We're camping out. The only guidance we've been given is to hunker down," a Fort Hood soldier who answered the phone at a building near the shooting told the Austin American-Statesman newspaper.

Central Texas College ordered an immediate evacuation of all students and staff and canceled classes at its Fort Hood campus.

"It's a terrible tragedy. We know that. We know there are casualties, both people killed and injured," US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.

Repeated violence

The violence echoed the rampage of 2009, when a former army psychiatrist killed 13 people in a shooting spree at Fort Hood, a base from which soldiers prepare to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Major Nidal Hasan shouted "Allahu Akbar", Arabic for "God is greatest", during the attack and later said he wanted to be a martyr. He was convicted and faces death by lethal injection.

In September, a gunman opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard, killing 12 and wounding four before being killed by police. Last month, a civilian shot and killed a sailor aboard a ship at a US navy base in Norfolk, Virginia.