Fort Hood

III Corp and Fort Hood Commanding General Mark Milley speaks to press after a shooting at Fort Hood on Wednesday evening. The incident left four dead and at least three in critical condition. 

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

FORT HOOD — A soldier shot and killed four people, including himself, and injured 16 at the Fort Hood military base, located outside of Killeen, on Wednesday afternoon. The casualties mark the second mass shooting at Fort Hood in five years.

Nine patients are in treatment in the intensive care unit at the Scott & White Hospital in Temple. Three were in critical condition Wednesday night, according to Deontrea Jones, a hospital spokesman.

The soldier, who was identified by U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, as 34-year-old Ivan Lopez, suffered from “unresolved” mental and behavior health issues and was in treatment, according to Lt. Gen. Mark Milley. Fort Hood officials said they would not confirm Lopez was the shooter. 

According to Fort Hood officials, the shooter fired at individuals in the 1st Medical Brigade area of Fort Hood a little after 4 p.m. He died of self-inflicted injuries after a military police officer approached him.

Milley said though the shooter had not been formally diagnosed, he was undergoing the diagnosis process for post-traumatic stress disorder. The shooter served in Iraq for four months in 2011 and had a wife and children who lived near the base.

“That’s a lengthy diagnosis,” Milley said. 

Ben Armstrong, director of UT’s Student Veteran Services, said many veterans at UT have served at Fort Hood or have other close connections with the base, although there is no way of tracking an exact number. Armstrong said he and other members of Student Veteran Services have not yet decided on a course of action or support plan.

“The immediate thing we’re worried about is the families and soldiers that are on base,” Armstrong said. “Right now I think that all we can do is hope and pray for the people that are on base, and we can go from there once we figure out what the realities of the situation are.”

In 2009, Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, shot and killed 13 people and injured more than 30 others at Fort Hood. In 2010, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ordered the military to better identify potential workplace violence, improve information sharing between agencies and review emergency response capabilities at installations.

At a press conference in Chicago, President Barack Obama expressed grief and frustration that another shooting happened on a military base.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire community, and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure Fort Hood has what it needs,” Obama said. “Folks there sacrifice so much on behalf of our freedom. … They serve with valor and distinction. When they’re at their home base, they need to feel safe. We don’t know what happened tonight, but obviously that sense of safety has been broken again.”

Sociology sophomore Sara Tracy, who attended UT as a freshman and will be returning in the fall, lives in Killeen just a few miles away from the Fort Hood base and has family and friends who work there.

Tracy said she still has vivid memories from the 2009 shooting, which happened when she was a junior in high school.

“The first time this happened, we couldn’t leave school,” Tracy said. “It was just scary, because a lot of my friends couldn’t get ahold of their parents because the cell service is terrible when a lot of people use their phones. People were worried because they have parents who work there, and it’s just like the same thing all over again.”

Tracy said the whole community is affected by the shootings.

“It’s emotional — earlier I just cried,” Tracy said. “You just don’t expect it to happen again … you want everybody to be safe.”

Veteran John Daywalt, a government junior from Killeen whose father still works at the Fort Hood base, said another shooting at the base was not something he expected to happen.

“Hearing that it happened a second time is even more devastating,” Daywalt said. “I just hope that the families are all OK and they get the proper respect that they deserve. It just kind of hits you by surprise.”

Daywalt, who served as a paratrooper in Afghanistan, said gun regulation on army bases is more stringent than people realize.

“I think there’s definitely a misconception that everyone on base is always carrying a weapon,” Daywalt said. “You think that just because they’re in the military, they’re always carrying a weapon. In reality, you are not allowed to touch a weapon without specific orders … so it’s not like if there was something like that you would be able to just respond immediately.”

For this story, Julia Brouillette and Kate Dannenmaier contributed reporting from Temple and Fort Hood. Additional reporting by Nicole Cobler, Anthony Green, Jacob Kerr, Jordan Rudner and Amanda Voeller from Austin.

Updated (11:07 p.m.): Nine patients are in treatment in the Intensive Care Unit at the Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, and of those nine, three are in critical condition, according to Deontrea Jones, a hospital spokeswoman. 

The soldier, who was identified by U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, as 34 year-old Ivan Lopez, suffered from “unresolved” mental and behavior health issues and was in treatment, according to Lt. Gen. Mark Milley. Fort Hood officials said they would not confrm Lopez was the shooter. He died of self-inflicted injuries after a military police officer approached him.

Milley said though the shooter had not been formally diagnosed, he was undergoing the diagnosis process for post-traumatic stress disorder. The shooter served for four months in Iraq in 2011 and had a wife and children who lived near the base.

“That’s a lengthy diagnosis,” Milley said. 

Updated (9:34 p.m.): U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, identified the shooter at Fort Hood as Ivan Lopez, a soldier at the base. McCaul is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

According to officials on the base, four people, including the shooter, have died. Several others are being treated for gunshot wounds at local hospitals.

Ben Armstrong, director of student veteran services, said many veterans at UT have close connections with Fort Hood, though there is no way of tracking an exact number.

“Because it’s one of the largest bases in the U.S. army, we have a large number of student veterans on campus that either served on Fort Hood or have had experiences at Fort Hood,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong said he and other members of student veteran services are monitoring the situation closely.

“The immediate thing we’re worried about is the families and soldiers that are on base,” Armstrong said. “Right now I think that all we can do is hope and pray for the people that are on base, and we can go from there, once we figure out what the realities of the situation are.”

Updated (8:22 p.m.): TEMPLE, TX — Scott and White Memorial Hospital, 30 miles from Fort Hood, is currently treating four injured people, and two additional people are en route to the hospital by way of a medical helicopter, according to chief medical official Glen Couchman.

According to Couchman, all of the injured people at the hospital are suffering from gunshot wounds ranging in severity, on victims’ chests, abdomens and extremities, and one person’s neck, Couchman said.

The hospital, which is in the process of contacting victims’ families, doesn’t expect to admit more patients in connection with the shooting, Couchman said. Other victims are being treated at local hospitals including the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.

“This is another sad day for Central Texas,” Couchman said at a press conference Wednesday.

The Heart of Texas chapter of the Red Cross will collaborate with the city of Killeen to open a shelter for people who live on-base but cannot enter the base because of the lockdown, according to a representative of the Red Cross’ Service to the Armed Forces.

Updated (7:31 p.m.): At a press conference in Chicago, President Barack Obama expressed grief and frustration that another shooting happened on a military base.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire community and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure Fort Hood has what it needs,” Obama said. “Folks there sacrifice so much on behalf of our freedom...they serve with valor and distinction. When they’re at their home base, they need to feel safe. We don’t know what happened tonight, but obviously that sense of safety has been broken again.”

Sociology sophomore Sara Tracy, who attended UT as a freshman and will be returning in the fall, lives in Killeen just a few miles from the Fort Hood base and has family and friends who work there.

Tracy said she still has vivid memories from the 2009 shooting, which happened when she was a junior in high school.

“The first time this happened, we couldn’t leave school,” Tracy said. “It was just scary, because a lot of my friends couldn’t get ahold of their parents because the cell service is terrible when a lot of people use their phones. People were worried because they have parents who work there, and it’s just like the same thing all over again.”

Tracy said the whole community is affected by the shootings.

“It’s emotional — earlier I just cried,” Tracy said. “You just don’t expect it to happen again...you want everybody to be safe.”

Veteran John Daywalt, a government junior from Killeen whose father still works at the Fort Hood base, said another shooting on the base was not something he expected could happen.

“Hearing that it happened a second time is even more devastating,” Daywalt said. “I just hope that the families are all OK, and they get the proper respect that they deserve. It just kind of hits you by surprise.”

Daywalt, who served as a paratrooper in Afghanistan, said gun regulation on army bases is more stringent than people realize.

“I think there’s definitely a misconception that everyone on base is always carrying a weapon,” Daywalt said. “You think that just because they’re in the military, they’re always carrying a weapon. In reality, you are not allowed to touch a weapon without specific orders...so it’s not like if there was something like that you would be able to just respond immediately.”

Updated (6:50 p.m.): At least 18 injured people have been admitted to the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center in connection with the shooting, according to a representative from the Admissions and Dispositions department at the center. The representative said some of the 18 people have already been transferred to Scott and White Memorial Hospital in Temple, TX.

Updated (6:34 p.m.): The shooter may be dead, but this is unconfirmed, according to a report released by Fort Hood’s Directorate of Emergency Services. Fort Hood is still on lockdown.

The Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center and other local hospitals are treating injured people.

In response to an independent review on the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ordered the military in 2010 to better identify potential workplace violence, improve information sharing between agencies and and review emergency response capabilities at installations.

Original story (5:44 p.m.): There is at least one active shooter at the military post at Fort Hood, Texas, according to a press release issued by officers at the post.  Multiple injuries have been reported and emergency crews are on the scene.

The provost marshal’s office said the shooter is still active.

In 2009, Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, shot and killed 13 people and injured more than 30 others at Fort Hood.

For live updates from Fort Hood, follow reporters Julia Brouillette (@juliakbrou) and Kate Dannenmaier (@kjdannen), as well as the multimedia team members Charlie Pearce (@charliepearce90), Dan Resler (@danrezler) and Carlo Nasisse (@carlonasisse).

Reporting by Julia Brouillette, Nicole Cobler, Kate Dannenmaier, Anthony Green, Jacob Kerr, Jordan Rudner and Amanda Voeller.

FORT WORTH, Texas — For the victims' families and those wounded in the Fort Hood shooting rampage, news that the suspect will face a military trial and the death penalty came as no surprise.

Many have cried and prayed together since a gunman opened fire on the Texas Army post that sunny day in November 2009, killing 13 people and injuring more than two dozen others. Some of them celebrated Wednesday's announcement that Maj. Nidal Hasan would face a death sentence if convicted, though others were more solemn. Yet all said it was another step in their healing process.

"I'm glad I'm not the one deciding what happens to Hasan," said Leila Hunt Willingham, whose brother, Spc. Jason Dean "J.D." Hunt was killed while protecting civilian nurses during the shootings.

"People think the default (emotion) is always anger and revenge," she said. "No one seems to understand that the outcome of this will not bring any more peace or closure than what I can get on my own. No matter what happens to Hasan, my brother is still dead."

Fort Hood's commanding general, Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell, said Wednesday that Hasan would be tried in a military court and, if convicted, possibly be sentenced to death. The decision echoed the recommendations of two Army colonels who previously reviewed the case against the Army psychiatrist, who is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.

"I believe the Army as an institution has long been planning to go this route," Hasan's lead attorney, John Galligan, said from his office near Fort Hood, about 125 miles south of Fort Worth.

Many relatives and friends of those who survived the attack applauded the decision. Staff Sgt. Jeannette Juroff, who was working in a nearby building that day and helped wounded soldiers, said the rampage deeply affected those at Fort Hood, a sprawling compound where tens of thousands of soldiers are stationed.

"If he's convicted and sentenced to death, maybe the (victims') families can get closure because he won't be here anymore and we'll no longer have to talk about him," Juroff said.

Keely Cahill Vanacker, whose father Michael Grant Cahill — the lone civilian killed that day — tried to stop the gunman with a chair, said she doesn't think about Hasan.

"This may be unusual and certainly not everyone's opinion, but worrying about what happens to the man who killed my father — I don't spend time thinking about it," Vanacker said, adding that she has "full faith in the prosecution team. There will be a fair trial and justice will be done."

A military judge has not been named to oversee the military trial, and it was not immediately clear when Hasan would be arraigned. Under military law, he must plead not guilty because it is a death penalty case.

Galligan, Hasan's lawyer, had urged Fort Hood's commander at a meeting in May not to seek the death penalty, saying such cases were more costly, time consuming and restrictive. In cases where death is not a punishment option for military jurors, soldiers convicted of capital murder are automatically sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

Galligan has declined to say whether he is considering an insanity defense for his client. He also has refused to disclose results of a military mental health panel's evaluation of Hasan. The three-member panel was asked to decide whether Hasan is competent to stand trial, if he had a severe mental illness that day and, if so, whether that prevented him from knowing at the time that his alleged actions were wrong.

Hasan, 40, was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by police the day of the rampage. He remains in the Bell County jail, which houses defendants for nearby Fort Hood.

Hasan has attended several brief court hearings and an evidentiary hearing last fall that lasted about two weeks. He sometimes took notes during that hearing and showed no reaction as 56 witnesses testified, including more than two dozen soldiers who survived gunshot wounds.

Witnesses testified that a gunman wearing an Army combat uniform shouted "Allahu Akbar!" — which is Arabic for "God is great!" — and started shooting in a small but crowded medical building where deploying soldiers are vaccinated and undergo other tests. The gunman fired rapidly, pausing only to reload, even shooting some people as they hid under tables or fled the building, witnesses said.

The gunman fatally shot two people who tried to stop him by throwing chairs, and killed three soldiers who were protecting civilian nurses, according to testimony.

Most of the witnesses identified the gunman as Hasan, an American-born Muslim who was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan the following month. Before the attack, Hasan bought a laser-equipped semiautomatic handgun and repeatedly visited a firing range, where he honed his skills by shooting at the heads on silhouette targets, witnesses testified during the hearing.

A young boy made faces and held tightly to his father’s army fatigues as they smiled for a photograph with the secretary of the Army.

Maj. Steven Richter led the medical operation during last year’s Fort Hood shooting and was nearby when he heard gunfire rip through the air 50 feet away in an adjacent building.

But Friday morning, only a breeze swept through a silent memorial as friends and family gathered to honor the living for their courage and to remember their fallen comrades at the ceremony for the shooting’s one-year anniversary.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh awarded 52 medals to service members and civilians for acts of courage during the shooting. A soldier then pulled back the cloth covering a memorial stone that read, “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
Under the inscription were the names of the 12 soldiers and one civilian who were killed.

For a larger view, please view the presentation in fullscreen.

 

McHugh said the story of Nov. 5, 2009 will always be one of overwhelming sadness for the Army and Fort Hood, but there is another story about courage and sacrifice in the face of deadly challenges.

“For all its glory, this is really a story that is very common in this great land and in our history,” McHugh said. “Our hope is lifted and our resolve is strengthened by those who rush toward the burning building, toward the sounds of gunshot and chaos and destruction to lend their hands — and sometimes, render their lives in service to their fellow men.”

McHugh awarded Richter the Soldier’s Medal, the most prestigious honor a soldier can earn in a noncombat zone. Thirty-two were wounded that day, and several were brought into his area. Richter said there could have been a lot more deaths had the shooting taken place farther away from the Army’s medical center.

“There were so many people that did great things that day, it’s great that so many could be recognized for what [soldiers] take for granted and what we would do regardless,” Richter said.

Richter said he could not comment on the details of what he saw because of alleged shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan’s ongoing military trial. Hasan, an Army psychiatrist who was eventually subdued by military police, is currently in a pretrial hearing for 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted murder. Hasan’s trial will resume on Nov. 15. Hasan could face the death penalty if convicted of the shooting.

Mental Health Noncommissioned Officer Aaron Puckett, a 31-year-old Kentucky native, said he was watching the events unfold when Spc. Logan Burnette burst through the double glass doors 50 feet away. Puckett, who was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, then charged outside and dragged Burnette inside the building before applying first aid to the wounded soldier.

“If I live to be 300 years old, I’ll never see nothing like that again,” he said. “All the newspapers back home asked me, ‘Do you feel like a hero?’ But, you know, we just reacted.”

Michael Cahill was a physician’s assistant at Fort Hood and was the only civilian killed during the attack. Cahill liked reading books for long stretches of time, visiting family in Alaska and smoking cigarettes, said Cahill’s brother-in-law, Kevin Murphy.

“Just a good man and a heck of a loss,” Murphy said.

Cahill’s wife, Jolene, said the loss of her husband left a great void at Fort Hood where the soldiers held great respect for him.

Over the course of the past year, each family of the departed has experienced many firsts without their loved ones, Maj. Gen. William Grimsley told the families gathered at the memorial.

“Maybe it was the first wedding anniversary without your spouse, the first big school event without your mom or dad,” Grimsley said. “All of us in the Fort Hood and broader Central Texas community share in your grief and use the loss of your loved ones as a source of strength to grow and to be better servants of our nation on your behalf.”