The Fort Hood Gunman Said to Have Sought Mental Health Treatment

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 3 2014 9:44 AM

The Fort Hood Gunman Said to Have Sought Mental Health Treatment

General Mark Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General (C), speaks to media during a press conference about a shooting that occurred earlier in the day at Fort Hood Military Base on April 2, 2014

Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images

Authorities have begun the long process of piecing together exactly what happened Wednesday evening at Fort Hood, where an Iraq War veteran shot and killed three people and wounded 16 others before taking his own life. Officials on the ground say that the gunman's motives remain unclear, although there is nothing to suggest that the shooting was related to terrorism.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Instead, the initial investigation appears to be focused on the mental health of the gunman, identified as Ivan Lopez by House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (via the Associated Press):

Within hours of the Wednesday attack, investigators started looking into whether the man's combat experience had caused lingering psychological trauma. Fort Hood's senior officer, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, said 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. ...
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, 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, Milley said. The commander did not elaborate.

Unnamed officials tell NBC News that military records suggest Lopez never saw combat action during his Iraq deployment, although they stressed that (in the network's words) "did not mean Lopez was not suffering serious psychological problems," just that "the problems did not appear to be combat-related."

The attack immediately stirred memories of the 2009 shooting spree at the base, which was the deadliest attack on a domestic military base in U.S. history. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 injured then. "We are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened," President Obama said last night from Chicago. "We’re heartbroken something like this might have happened again."

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