The Army has concluded there were “no clear warning signs” in the military and personnel records of the gunman responsible for last year’s mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, that would have indicated he would act violently.
On April 2, 2014 Specialist Ivan Lopez-Lopez went on a shooting spree on the sprawling base that killed three and injured 12 before he took his own life. The investigation found no single event led to the shootings, but it cited “potential contributing factors” that if they had not occurred “might have led to a different result.”
Headed by Lt. General Joseph E. Martz, the investigation concluded: “We find no indication in his medical and personnel records suggesting SPC Lopez-Lopez was likely to commit a violent act" or "sufficient evidence that he pre-planned the shooting.”
In the weeks and months before the shootings Lopez-Lopez was experiencing financial stress and dealing with the emotional blow of the deaths of his mother and grandfather six months before.
However, the report determined, “We cannot reasonably conclude that any single event or stressor, in isolation, was the cause of the shooting. We find that the cumulative effect of these stressors overwhelmed SPC Lopez-Lopez’s ability to effectively cope with them, and led to his irrational, violent outburst.”
Lopez-Lopez had been recently transferred to Fort Hood and upon assignment to his new unit had requested time off, Permissive Temporary Duty (PTDY) to finish his move from his previous posting at Fort Bliss, Texas.
He spent much of April 2 trying to get his time off request processed by his unit’s personnel office, a request they ultimately denied because he had already secured housing in nearby Killeen, Texas.
Later that same day Lopez-Lopez used a recently purchased handgun to begin shooting soldiers assigned to the personnel office, targeting several soldiers “he believed were not supporting his PTDY request.”
Martz’s report says the PTDY request could have been handled better “but we do not find—nor do we intend to create the perception—that personnel in the S-1 shop are to blame for the shooting.” S-1 being the Army acronym for a battalion personnel command.
“No other soldier could reasonably have foreseen that he would react as he did to the denial of his PTDY request, and none of them had the opportunity to stop him,” said the report. “He alone had the opportunity to avoid the shooting, and he chose not to do so.”
The report also found that his unit’s command was in such transition that they “were hampered by a lack of awareness of the stressors affecting him."
The review found “no indication in his medical and personnel records suggesting SPC Lopez-Lopez was likely to commit a violent act.” But it also determined that they could not conclude that if his PTDY request had been granted whether “he would not have reacted violently at some other time.”
Noting the limited interactions that Lopez-Lopez’s commanders had with the newly assigned soldier the report makes several recommendations to improve the level of contacts with new soldiers in their units.
The report recommends further exploration of the idea that soldiers register their personally owned weapons with their commander. Currently, soldiers are required to register their personally owned guns only if they live on base housing.
"This impacts a commander's ability to maintain situational awareness over a service member and their actions involving a firearm that could be concealed and brought onto the installation for unauthorized purposes," said the report.