On April 2, 2014 U.S. Army Specialist Ivan Lopez-Lopez killed four soldiers (including himself) and wounded 12 others aboard the Army Installation in Fort Hood, Texas. This tragic event occurred less than five years after the November 5, 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood where Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people and injured 30.
The Department of the Army recently released its Report of the Investigation into the 2 April 2014 Shooting Incident at Fort Hood this week, which was headed by Lt. General Joseph E. Martz who “interviewed and obtained sworn statements from 169 witnesses.”
While the loss of life at Fort Hood from both shootings is equally tragic, the Army found a stark difference in the motivations behind each killing. The 2012 Final Report of the William H. Webster Commission on the FBI, Counterterrorism Intelligence, and the Events at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009 cites heated confrontations between Hasan and fellow soldiers about religion. These confrontations in addition to correspondence with radical cleric Anwar-al-Awlaqi are examined as possible evidence that Hasan’s radicalism lead to violence. Emphasizing the religious context of the first shooting, the report states that “[Hasan] jumped on a desk and shouted ‘Allahu Akbar!’ – Arabic for ‘God is Great!’ Then he opened fire.”
The Army is less conclusive about Lopez-Lopez’s motivations. Lt. Gen Martz concluded that no “single event or stressor, in isolation, was the cause of the shooting.” His findings discuss the compilation of a myriad of stressors that cumulatively lead to Lopez-Lopez’s fragile mental state. He had recently lost two family members, was being treated medically [specific medical details have been blacked out in the report’s redaction], and was dealing with childcare payments from a divorce which was putting a strain on his finances. Lopez-Lopez had deployed to Iraq, but the report does not discuss any severely traumatic events that could’ve contributed as a stressor, nor did the autopsy find any traces of illegal drugs or evidence of alcohol abuse.
The report also recognizes that Lopez-Lopez had recently transferred to his unit at Fort Hood, which subsequently underwent a change in leadership. Lopez-Lopez and his unit’s unfamiliarity with each other is cited in the report as a reason the unit might not have noticed any warning signs Lopez-Lopez would’ve displayed before the shooting. The report’s final recommendation is to increase the amount of interaction and mentorship between soldiers and their chain of command. This is especially emphasized as a necessity for soldiers arriving to a new unit, or when a change in leadership takes place.
Additional Fort Hood Resources available at the Homeland Security Digital Library (some resources may require HSDL login) include:
- Fort Hood Army Internal Review Team: Final Report
- Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood
- Air Force Follow-On Review: Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood
- Lessons from Fort Hood: Improving Our Ability to Connect the Dots, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management of the Committee on Homeland Security
- A Ticking Time Bomb: Counterterrorism Lessons from the U.S. Government’s Failure to Prevent the Fort Hood Attack, Hearing Before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
- Final Report of the William H. Webster Commission on the FBI, Counterterrorism Intelligence, and the Events at Fort Hood, Texas on November 5, 2009: Hearing Before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations
- Findings of the Department of Defense Independent Review Relating to Fort Hood, Hearing before the Full Committee of the Committee on Armed Services
Article formerly posted at https://www.hsdl.org/blog/newpost/view/n-a-11