April 4, 2014— -- The soldier who opened fire at Fort Hood became enraged after an employee wouldn’t give him a leave of absence form, according to the father of one of the soldiers he shot.
Sgt. Jonathan Westbrook was struck four times in the spray of bullets, but was able to tell his father the shooter became agitated after an employee asked him to come back the next day.
The killer returned with a gun, said Theodis Westbrook, recounting his son’s story to ABC News.
The shooter, Spc. Ivan Lopez, killed three soldiers and wounded 16 before being confronted by a military police officer and killed himself.
Sgt. Westbrook was among the first shot, twice in the arm and twice in the chest.
The gunfire sent people in the room scurrying for cover.
"They dove for cover behind desks and tables only after he had shot and killed one person and injured my son," Theodis Westbrook said.
Theodis Westbrook didn’t speak to his son until seven hours later.
“I love you,” the relieved dad said he told his son.
Despite his wounds, Westbrook was released from the hospital today.
"My son is a blessed human being," Westbrook said. "He is blessed. He was shot pretty close up."
The wounded soldier's sister, Ameetra Westbrook-Otis, added details from her brother's story when she told ABC affiliate WAPT that her brother was working in the Human Resources Department when Lopez came in asking for leave of absence form. When the supervisor asked Lopez if he could come back the next day, Lopez looked exasperated and walked off, the sister said.
But he was back within minutes and started shooting. The first person shot was the supervisor, Westbrook-Otis said recounting her brother's story. He then shot several other people, including her brother.
Ten of the 16 wounded have been released from hospitals, Lt. Gen Mark Milley said at a press conference today.
Authorities said they don't believe Lopez's rampage was premeditated, but Milley did say it was likely the result of an "escalating argument."
Chris Grey, spokesman for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, said there is still "no concrete motive."
"We may never know why the alleged shooter did what he did," Grey said.
New details emerged about Lopez. He was a police officer in his native Puerto Rico for 10 years, and Grey said investigators have turned up "no history of criminal activity or convictions."
Among the dead is Sgt. Timothy Owens, 37. Mom Mary Muntean was still celebrating being reunited with the daughter she had given up for adoption when she heard the news.
Her euphoria at finding her daughter was cut short by losing her son.
“She finds one child and loses another,” her niece Betty Goodwin told the Associated Press.
Mary Muntean began to panic when her son didn’t answer her phone calls after she saw news of the shooting on TV.
“I thought, Oh God, please don’t let it be,” Muntean told ABC News affiliate WICS in Springfield, Ill.
“Very terrible ... that they had to shoot my son,” she said. “He was a good person.”
Owens’ wife Billie broke the news to his mother.
“She said, ‘Mom, I want to tell you how sorry I am. Tim’s gone,’” Muntean said. “I broke down. I’m 77 years old and I can hardly take this.”
Mary Muntean had been reunited with her daughter only the week before.
Sgt. First Class Danny Ferguson died a hero, his fiance told CBS affiliate WTSP in Tampa, Fla.
Ferguson used his body to keep the door shut so Lopez couldn’t enter, said Kristin Haley, also a soldier stationed at Fort Hood.
“It seems the doors would be bullet proof, but apparently they’re not,” Haley, who was nearby but escaped uninjured, told the station. “If he wasn’t the one standing there holding those doors closed, that shooter would have been able to get through and shoot everyone else.”
Ferguson, from Mulberry, Fla., had just returned from Afghanistan, the station reported.
The third victim has yet to be named.
Major Patrick Miller was among the wounded. Information about the 32-year-old Iraq war veteran’s condition has not been released. Miller is from Allegany, N.Y. but lives with his wife outside Austin, Texas.