Sen. Cornyn and Lt. General Milley Discuss Service and Sacrifice at Ft. Hood

Sen. Cornyn and Lt. General Milley Discuss Service and Sacrifice at Ft. Hood

FORT HOOD, TEXAS–U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) joined with Fort Hood commanding general, Lt. General Mark A. Milley, for a news brief on updated information revealed in the first day of investigations of the Ft. Hood shooting. The shooter was confirmed to be Army Specialist Ivan Lopez, 34, a native of Puerto Rico.  Both reflected on the sacrifice made by those who lost their lives, the service of the first responders and medical professionals and the heroism of those facing the danger head on.

General Milley described the actions of an as yet unnamed female military policeman who confronted the shooter and ended the tragic shooting.  The first 911 call came at 4:16 p.m., Wednesday afternoon.  Gen. Milley described the calls from two soldiers who had already suffered gunshot wounds as being heroic in enabling the rapid response of both law enforcement and rescue personnel.

Four minutes later, the female MP arrived and “began working the scene,” the General said.  He described the scene saying, “a short time later, the shooter showed up and approached her at approximately 20 feet.”  He referred to his description where he said Lopez initially raised his hands and then reached into his jacked and produced the .45 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol. “At which time,” the General said, “she determined that as a threat, correctly so, and engaged him with small arms fire at which time then, the shooter did a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Breitbart Texas asked General Milley if the MP’s shots impacted the shooter.  He replied that the information requested would be revealed when the autopsy is complete.  He confirmed that she did fire her weapon at Lopez but did not comment on whether Lopez fired at her prior to taking his own life.

The General also confirmed Breitbart Texas’ report from that Lopez purchased the pistol from Guns Galore, a Killeen, Texas gun shop. The purchase was made on March 1, 2014. This is the same gun shop where Maj. Nidal Hasan purchased the handgun he used in the shooting nearly five years ago.  Local residents downplayed the significance of this coincidence saying that Guns Galore is the largest and most popular gun store in the community. “It’s where everyone goes to buy their guns in Killeen,” one resident stated to Breitbart Texas.

LA Times correspondent, Molly Hennessy-Fiske, asked Gen. Milley if he foresaw any change in military policy regarding soldiers carrying concealed weapons on base as a result of this shooting.  Consistent with his emphatic question on the topic last night, Gen. Milley said, “At this time, there is no change in the DOD policy that I am aware of, in terms of carrying weapons on a military installation.”

She followed up later with Sen. Cornyn and asked what he thought of the policy of soldiers not being allowed to carry firearms to be able to defend themselves.  “Do you think that needs to be modified, perhaps one soldier per building?” she asked. Sen. Cornyn replied, “General Milley’s job is to carry out the policy of the Department of Defense now, but I am confident there will be a thorough review of that policy and the military will make the best judgment of what needs to happen to protect the people on base.”

“So,” Cornyn continued, “I respect General Milley’s position. I respect the importance of doing that thorough review to see if there are any gaps or anything that needs to be corrected in future policy.”

In his opening remarks, Sen. Cornyn said, “I am back here at Fort Hood for the second time in about four and one-half years, in what I see is a community that has come together in a time of crisis and heartbreak and it is pulling together. This community is no stranger to hardship and challenges.  They have risen and met the tests each and every time.”   The Senator expressed his support to the command staff and to the families of those involved.

Cornyn said he looks forward to having the opportunity to meet with the first responders and to visit with Gen. Milley with some of the wounded soldiers so that he might provide whatever comfort he can to them and their families.

Milley also described the heroic action of a military chaplain who threw himself over others to protect them and then broke out a window in the building to help others escape unharmed.  He praised the performance of the initial medical staff and said they responded a near combat level.

Spec. Lopez was stationed at Fort Bliss, near El Paso, Texas, prior to his transfer to Fort Hood in February. When he transferred, his MOS (military occupational specialty) changed from being an infantryman to vehicle transportation.  He said the transfer was not due to any medical treatment or diagnosis at the time.

The General was deliberately vague on many details due to the ongoing investigation he said was being headed up by Army CID.  Names of the wounded victims were not released at this time because of their need to participate in the investigation. 

In a press release from Fort Hood, Spec. Lopez service record was revealed as follows:

Lopez, 34, whose home of record is listed as Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, entered active duty service in June 2008 and was currently assigned to 49th Transportation Movement Control Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).

He was previously assigned to Fort Bliss, Texas and assigned to the 1st Armored Division from April 2010 until November 2013 as an automatic rifleman. He reclassified as a motor transport operator in December 2013 and arrived at Fort Hood in February 2014.

Lopez deployed to Egypt from January 2007 to January 2008, and in support of Operation New Dawn from August 2011 to December 2011.

Lopez’s awards and decorations include two Army Commendation Medals, four Army Achievement Medals, three Army Good Conduct Medals, two National Defense Service Medals, Iraqi Campaign Medal with campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Armed Forces Reserve Medal and Multinational Forces and Observers medal.

General Milley concluded by saying there will be a public memorial service scheduled for the fallen soldiers sometime next week. The details will be released in a future press conference.

Follow Bob Price on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX