Fort Hood soldiers listen to their commander Lt Gen. Mark Miley after the shooting. (AP)
Killeen (Texas), April 3: A soldier who was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder opened fire at Fort Hood today, killing three people and wounding 16 before killing himself, the authorities said.
The shooting set off a huge police response and shut down the sprawling Army base, the same facility where a deadly rampage by an officer resulted in 13 deaths in 2009.
Fort Hood’s commanding general said the gunman, a soldier who had served in Iraq and was being treated for behavioural and mental health issues, had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The commander, Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, told reporters that the soldier’s motive remained unclear, but that the shooting did not appear to be related to terrorism.
A Pentagon official said the suspected gunman was Army Specialist Ivan Lopez. Gen. Milley, while not identifying Lopez by name, said the gunman had served four months in Iraq in 2011 and was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder, but had not yet been diagnosed with the condition.
There were indications that he had self-reported a traumatic brain injury when he returned from Iraq, Gen. Milley said.
Reports of the shooting sent dozens of local, state and federal law enforcement officials rushing to the base in Killeen as they had in November 2009. In Chicago, President Obama said that White House and Pentagon officials were following the events closely. “We are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened,” the President said. “We’re heartbroken something like this might have happened again.”
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, said that many questions remained but that officials’ focus was on supporting the victims and their families. “This is a community that has faced and overcome crises with resilience and strength,” he said in a statement.
The episode appeared to have unfolded around 4.30pm at a medical support building. Witnesses described chaos as gunshots rang out.
The base was put on lockdown, as Army officials took to Twitter and Facebook to alert soldiers there to shelter in place and stay away from windows.
The injured were transported to Fort Hood’s medical centre and other area hospitals.