KILLEEN, Texas — In a little more than eight minutes, Specialist Ivan A. Lopez fired at least 35 rounds at his fellow troops at Fort Hood, unleashing panic and bloodshed over two blocks on foot and from inside his vehicle as he killed three unarmed soldiers and wounded 16 others while they were sitting at desks, driving in a car, and standing outside buildings, an Army official said Monday.
In their first detailed timeline since the shooting Wednesday, Army officials described how Lopez, 34, stayed on the move throughout the rampage, driving in his own vehicle to three buildings — including his transportation unit’s headquarters and another office where he worked — shooting and killing a soldier in each. As he drove from building to building, he also fired at soldiers on the street and in a passing car, wounding several, before he was confronted by a police officer, put his gun to his head, and took his own life, officials said.
All the while, he was 1 mile from the site of the medical deployment center that was the scene of Fort Hood’s first mass shooting in 2009.
On Wednesday, President Obama and the first lady will visit Fort Hood for a memorial service for the three soldiers killed in the attack. Obama spoke at a similar event five days after Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed and wounded dozens of Fort Hood soldiers in the first shooting in November 2009.
Lopez’s assault started at about 4 p.m. inside the administrative office of his unit, the 49th Transportation Battalion, said Chris Grey, a spokesman for the US Army Criminal Investigation Command, the lead agency investigating the shooting. Investigators have not established a clear motive, but the catalyst appeared to be an argument Lopez had with soldiers from his unit about his request for a leave of absence to attend to family matters. One of the soldiers in that meeting, Sergeant Jonathan Westbrook, described the specialist as “irate.”
Minutes after the altercation, Lopez left the building and returned soon after, firing multiple rounds from his .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun. Westbrook was one of the first people he shot. “He came back and fired shots,” Westbrook, who was shot four times, said in a telephone interview with WJTV, a television station in Mississippi. “The next thing going through my head was my family: my wife, my children, my mom, my dad. Make sure that I can get safe so I can stay alive for them, and that’s what I did.”