Army: 'Strong Indication' of 'Verbal Altercation'
But Ivan Lopez's rampage still baffling to friends, investigators
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2014 6:49 PM CDT
This undated photo provided by Glidden Lopez shows Army Spc. Ivan Lopez.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of Glidden Lopez)

(Newser) – A full day of coverage about Ivan Lopez hasn't shed much light on why he opened fire on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood. In fact, the Washington Post quotes the mayor of Lopez's native town in Puerto Rico describing him as "quiet," "introverted," and "calm," and as a smart, talented percussionist in his youth. The 34-year-old wasn't exactly a loner, either: The newspaper notes that a photo he posted of himself in uniform on Facebook last year got 55 likes. He also posted images of himself with his children. (The Post says he has four in all, including two from his most recent marriage.) But something clearly had gone wrong in recent years, with Lopez getting treatment for depression, anxiety, and other issues, reports the AP.

Pentagon officials say his “unstable psychiatric and psychological condition” was the “fundamental underlying factor” behind the attack, reports the Los Angeles Times. “It was mentioned yesterday that there might have been a verbal altercation with another soldier or soldiers,” Lt Gen. Mark Milley said today. "We do not have that definitively, but we do have a strong indication of that.” Investigators don't think Lopez had specific victims in mind when he shot up two separate buildings, however. Another element getting attention is that Lopez was distressed at getting only a 24-hour leave to return to Puerto Rico when his mother died in November, says family friend Glidden Lopez Torres. His leave eventually got extended to two days. Meanwhile, Milley also said that Lopez bought the handgun he used in his shooting spree at the same gun shop in Killeen used by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan for his 2009 rampage at the military base. Lopez bought the gun March 1. (Earlier, officials said that Lopez saw no combat in a deployment to Iraq and praised the actions of a 'heroic' military police woman at the base.)

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Showing 3 of 22 comments
Elvee
Apr 4, 2014 4:05 PM CDT
Has anyone taken a look at the side effects of Ambien, reportedly one of the drugs he was on: confusion about identity, place, and time; depersonalization; quick to react or overreact emotionally; rapidly changing moods; seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there; attack, assault, or force, etc. And he was reportedly taking meds for anxiety, and depression as well. Isn't it likely that the drugs contributed to his rampage? sources: http://www.drugs.com/sfx/ambien-side-effects.html
Ginger Snap
Apr 4, 2014 1:44 PM CDT
Oh come on! Has anyone reviewed the side effects of Ambien, one of the meds he was on: confusion about identity, place, and time; depersonalization; paranoia; quick to react or overreact emotionally; seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren't there; attack, assault, or force, etc. And that was just one of the medicines he was talking. He was also on antidepressants, and anxiety medication. Who knows what those drugs did to his head! sources: http://www.drugs.com/sfx/ambien-side-effects.html
kgc
Apr 4, 2014 5:01 AM CDT
Obviously something destabilized this young man and he didn't get all the help he needed, but it may be no one's fault. The best predictor of violent behavior is a history of past violence. This doesn't help in recognizing the potential before the first incident happens. Mental health professional have to rely a great deal on patients divulging what is going on in their heads. In the military, soldiers do not have the same rights to confidentially, as do civilians, when they are seek mental health treatment within the military system. Add to this strong societal messages about weakness and mental illness that are intensified in a hyper masculine environment. It can be very difficult for a troubled soldiers to divulge the information that would alert mental health professions that s/he is at risk for violence against self or others. Further, it's ludicrous to give someone only one day's leave to go to a parent's funeral hundreds of miles away or just around the corner. It should be obvious that when someone suffers a significant loss, that spending time with family and friends can help start the healing process. He should not have had to fight to have a few days off. Doesn't the military have regulations about granting leave for major family deaths, serious illness? Do they leave this decision up to someone's superior officer? How can one day be considers adequate leave for the death of a parent? How can a soldier be expected to focus on the job safely and competently when a close family member has just died or is seriously ill? I think that this macho mentality contributes to suicides, friendly fire homicides, PTSD and other mental health problems. If soldiers have to shove intense emotions far underground so they can function at a job at times when most people are not functioning very well, some people will decompensate.