FORT HOOD, Texas – The rampage at Fort Hood that left three dead and 16 wounded last week was related to the shooter’s request for leave from the Texas Army post, military investigators said Monday.
Army spokesman Chris Grey did not indicate during a news conference Monday whether Spc. Ivan Lopez was granted the leave. Grey said the shooting spree Wednesday covered the equivalent of two city blocks as Lopez drove from one area to another on the Texas base randomly firing at soldiers.
A spokesman for Lopez’s family said last week that Lopez was upset he was granted only a 24-hour leave to attend his mother’s funeral in November. That leave was then extended to two days.
Providing the most detail yet about the second mass shooting at Fort Hood in five years, Grey said Lopez fired more than 35 shots while driving from one building on the sprawling Army base to another during an 8-minute rampage.
The three who died were gunned down in separate locations.
The rampage ended when Grey said Lopez got out of his car and was confronted by a female military police officer, who fired her gun but did not strike him.
Lopez then turned his .45-calibre pistol to his head and killed himself, Grey said.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to attend a memorial service for the victims Wednesday at Fort Hood.
Grey said Lopez killed one soldier and wounded 10 other in the first building, and that the victim there included one of the men Lopez had argued with moments earlier. Lopez then drove to a motor pool area where he was assigned and worked, killing one person, Grey said.
The last place Lopez entered was a medical building, walking inside and killing a soldier behind the desk, Grey said.
“At this point we do not know why he entered that building, and we may never know why,” Grey said.
In all, investigators say Lopez fired more than 35 shots.
Authorities said 11 of 16 injured have returned to duty.
In another attack at the base in 2009, 13 people were killed by Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, who had said he was angry about being deployed to Afghanistan and wanted to protect Islamic and Taliban leaders from U.S. troops.
Lopez, an Army truck driver, did a short stint in Iraq in 2011 and told medical personnel he had suffered a traumatic brain injury. The 34-year-old was undergoing treatment for depression and anxiety while being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder, base officials said. Fort Hood officials on Friday, however, said his mental condition was not a “direct participating factor” in the shooting.
But officials said Lopez did not see any combat in Iraq and had not previously demonstrated a risk of violence. He seemed to have a clean record that showed no ties to potential terrorists.