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Army Releases Report on Fort Hood Shooting Investigation

From a U.S. Army News Release

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2015 - Army officials today released the results of a months-long investigation into a shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, that left four people dead, concluding that there was nothing in the assailant's background, medical or military profile that might have provided an early warning for potential violence.

On April 2, 2014, Army Spc. Ivan Lopez-Lopez opened fire at several locations on the sprawling Army installation, killing three soldiers and wounding 12. Lopez-Lopez took his own life after being confronted by a military police officer.

"We find no indication in his medical and personnel records suggesting Spc. Lopez-Lopez was likely to commit a violent act," wrote Army Lt. Gen. Joseph E. Martz, who led an investigation team that interviewed and obtained sworn statements from 169 witnesses, in addition to reviewing materials and statements gathered during an earlier criminal investigation.

Martz's investigation also determined that no "single event or stressor, in isolation, was the cause of the shooting."

No Clear Warning Signs

The Army acknowledged that even though "there were no clear warning signs," a substantive review of Lopez-Lopez's background found several factors that may have contributed to the soldier's state of mind. He had recently experienced the death of two close family members, was facing financial difficulties, and was being treated for several medical conditions. He also had only recently come to Fort Hood from a previous assignment.

While recognizing the various "stressors," the Army investigation determined that Lopez-Lopez's chain of command would have had difficulty in recognizing personal problems or providing help he may have needed.

"Since risk assessment tools depend on self-reporting, they are subject to the soldier's willingness to identify risk factors accurately," the report reads, before noting that Lopez-Lopez could sometimes be "misleading or deceptive."

But the report notes that when Lopez-Lopez first arrived at Fort Hood, "the unit experienced significant turnover in leadership," and was facing "high operational tempo manning shortages" and that leaders may have been "unable to provide adequate time to train, mentor, and lead." It makes several recommendations to improve unit leaders' interaction with new soldiers.

Other Recommendations

Other recommendations include examining whether soldiers should be required to register personally owned weapons with their command. Lopez-Lopez had purchased two such weapons without the knowledge of his leadership; one had been stolen just weeks before the event, the other was used in the April shooting.

"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," the report says.

"In the absence of a system capable of identifying Lopez-Lopez as a threat, and because the unit was unaware and unable to address the variety of stressors in Lopez-Lopez's life, Fort Hood was not able to prevent the shooting," Martz concluded.

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