4 Dead, Including Shooter, At Army's Fort Hood

A soldier who was undergoing assessment to determine whether he had post-traumatic stress disorder opened fire on Wednesday at the base. Four people are dead including the shooter, who killed himself.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

We have more information on yesterday's violence at Fort Hood. That, of course, is the huge army base in Texas which has now been the scene of two mass shootings in recent years. An Iraq veteran shot and killed three people and then himself yesterday. NPR's Tom Bowman is our Pentagon correspondent. He's been covering this story. Tom, what more have you learned this morning?

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Well, we have learned a little bit more about the background of Ivan Lopez. He joined the Army in June 2008. Initially he was in infantry, and then he (unintelligible) as a truck driver. He did have two deployments, one four months in Iraq back in 2011 as a driver, and another year at a peacekeeping mission in the Sinai. His record shows no wounds of any kind, no direct combat. So consequently he would have no Purple Heart or any injury.

And there's no sense of any battle-related traumatic brain injury, but we were told that he self-reported TBI. So that's something they're still looking into. He was undergoing a variety of treatments for depression and anxiety, sleep disturbance, and he was being assessed for post-traumatic stress disorder, being assessed but had not yet been diagnosed.

INSKEEP: I guess we should define some terms here. TBI, traumatic brain injury, we've had a lot of reporting on NPR News about it. That's different than post-traumatic stress. That is actually a direct brain injury. But if I'm not mistaken, you can, you could get that without a Purple Heart, right? You could get that without a scratch. Just if you - you're near a large explosion or something, that might cause that.

BOWMAN: That's right, Steve. You know, the - TBI, it's a common ailment of soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and you would get it by being in a convoy, let's say. There could be a roadside blast, you get shaken up, your head hits the top of the cab in the truck or you're near an explosion while you're on patrol and you get, you know, your head hits the ground, let's say.

It's basically, you know, a concussion or oftentimes a severe concussion. And it's also been linked to suicides and aggressive behavior and so forth. And of course post-traumatic stress is, you know, someone who's been in combat, seen some horrible things over a period of time and is being treated for that.

INSKEEP: But with all of that said, I suppose we should stress we're gathering information. We're trying to figure out what we can learn about this man's past, but we do not know that any particular medical ailment or mental ailment that he had was directly connected to what happened yesterday at this point.

BOWMAN: That's right. We don't know that at this point. They're still gathering information about this man, who was married, by the way. He and his wife were both natives of Puerto Rico. And for all accounts, from Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno, he was experienced and a good soldier and no sense of any kind of extremist involvement, no punishment, no - any sort of problems in his record at this point.

INSKEEP: What happens on a military base like Fort Hood when you have an incident happening from among the ranks like this in a place that would have been presumed to be safe?

BOWMAN: Well, it's just horrible. I mean a lot of these soldiers probably just came back from Afghanistan. I know Lieutenant General Mark Milley, who briefed reporters last night, he just returned several weeks ago as the number two officer in Afghanistan. And you know, they get home, they see their families, they breathe a sigh of relief, we got back from Afghanistan safe. And then something like this happens. It's horribly traumatic, not only for the soldiers but for the families as well.

INSKEEP: And of course some of these people themselves are probably dealing with PTSD and then have to deal with this as well.

BOWMAN: That's right.

INSKEEP: Tom, thanks very much.

BOWMAN: You're welcome, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman with the latest information on yesterday's deadly shooting at Fort Hood, Texas.

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