The soldier who shot and killed three other individuals, then himself, and wounded 16 others at the Fort Hood military base, was an Army specialist who was being treated for mental illness, specifically for depression and anxiety.
According to a Fox News report, Army Spc. Ivan Antonio Lopez, a 34 year-old married man from Puerto Rico, had only recently been assigned to Fort Hood, and was working as a truck driver.
On Thursday, Edgardo Arlequin, both a friend of Lopez and the mayor of his hometown of Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, told Fox News Latino that Lopez had recently gone through significant change.
“We raised a good kid, somewhere [down the line] something happened that changed the life of this man,” Arlequin said. “What I know, from the seven, eight years that I taught him, is that from here he left a great human being.”
Glidden Lopez, 26, who is unrelated to the shooter but is acting as a spokesman for the Lopez family, said the soldier’s family is “shocked” and wants “to be left alone.” The family, whom he described as “very Catholic,” has reportedly gathered in an undisclosed location in Puerto Rico.
According to the Fox News Latino report, Lopez’s mother, Carmen Lopez, who was a nurse, died suddenly in November of a heart attack, and his grandfather the month before. Arlequin suggested the deaths affected Lopez deeply and stated that, initially, the Army did not permit Lopez to travel to Puerto Rico to attend his mother’s funeral. Ultimately, however, he was granted 24 hours to fly home for the event, arriving in Puerto Rico five days after her death.
“He came to Puerto Rico when his mother died and he had limited time,” said Arlequin. “They didn’t give him the time he wanted. That apparently affected him, upset him – the fact he could not spend more time with his mom in her last days for having been in the Army.”
However, a former elementary school and college classmate of Lopez reported to El Nuevo Dia, a newspaper in Puerto Rico, “I spoke with him two days ago, and he was happy, joking. But it seems that he had had an argument with someone back at base.”
The classmate described Lopez as “quiet” and “normal,” but could be impatient and temperamental. He added, however, “He was not violent or anything.”
Lopez joined the Army in 2008. While military sources indicate that he has three children, friends and family in Puerto Rico report that he has four children, two with an ex-wife who still lives in Puerto Rico.
Though Lopez served four months in Iraq in 2011, he saw no combat action, but told authorities when he returned that he had suffered a traumatic brain injury while in Iraq.
The Fox News Latino report indicates that Lopez was taking medication and receiving psychiatric treatment for depression and anxiety, while also being assessed for post-traumatic stress disorder. However, military officials said he was not in the process of leaving military service.
Edgar Ruiz, a nursing director who served as Lopez’s mother’s supervisor, said of Carmen Lopez, “When Ivan joined the Army, she worried that something would happen to him. Whenever she heard of something in the news she would say, ‘This could be my Ivan.'”
Officials have not yet commented on Lopez’s motive for the shootings, but Army Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the senior officer at Fort Hood, said Wednesday night there was no indication of terrorism, adding, however, “We’re not ruling anything out.”