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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Adolfo Flores and Richard Serrano, Los Angeles Times

KILLEEN, Texas — Army Spec. Ivan Lopez — who opened fire at Fort Hood on Wednesday, killing three and wounding 16 before killing himself — bought his weapon at the same store that supplied both Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan for his deadly rampage in 2009 and an Army private for a failed plot to execute a similar massacre in 2011, according to two federal law enforcement sources.

Hasan killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 using a pistol from the Guns Galore store in Killeen. It was the deadliest military base shooting in U.S. history. Two years later an AWOL Army private from Kentucky, Naser Jason Abdo, entered the same store and bought gunpowder, shotgun shells and a handgun. In that instance the store notified authorities, who arrested Abdo at a nearby motel where he was plotting to attack a restaurant popular with Fort Hood personnel.

An employee at Guns Galore said that the owner’s wife had talked to the FBI. An employee reached by phone declined to say whether store workers noticed anything of concern about Lopez, who legally purchased a semi-automatic .45-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol. “It’s an ongoing investigation. We have been told to redirect everybody to the FBI,” the employee said.

Military officials were scouring Lopez’s background. He saw no combat during his 2011 service in Iraq and was not wounded, Secretary of the Army John McHugh told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday morning.

Lopez was being treated for depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances, McHugh said. He had been examined by a psychiatrist last month and was prescribed Ambien, among other drugs, and was undergoing evaluation for post traumatic stress disorder.

The Puerto Rican native had two deployments. One was a truck driver in Iraq from August to December 2011, McHugh said. He has served with the National Guard in Puerto Rico from 1999 to 2010, said Major Jamie Davis, deputy public affairs officer at the National Guard Bureau.

He initially came in as an infantryman and later joined the 248th Army Band.

In 2007 Lopez was deployed to a Multinational Force and Observers unit on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. It was a noncombat deployment and he probably provided security in the surrounding region, Davis said.

Lopez received nine medals from the Army: two commendation medals, four achievement medals and three good conduct medals.

Nothing in his records shows that he was a danger to himself or others, Davis said.

“From what we have seen and heard from people who talked to him, all indications were that he was a good soldier.” Davis said.

The FBI, Texas authorities and Veteran’s Affairs officials were assisting in the investigation.

At least two victims were shot multiple times in the abdomen and extremities. The most seriously injured were taken to two local hospitals, including Carl R. Darnall Medical Center, where their conditions ranged from stable to critical, a hospital spokesman said.

Nine of the 16 wounded were being treated at Baylor Scott & White Hospital in Temple and three remained in critical condition, doctors said Thursday morning. Two patients were in fair condition and four in good condition, the hospital said. They have injuries to the abdomen, neck and spine. At least two of them will require additional surgeries.

The dead and wounded were all military personnel. A few of the injured had superficial wounds from shattered glass or cuts suffered while they scaled fences to flee the scene, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the Fort Hood commander, said.

Milley said the gunman, dressed in military fatigues, opened fire about 4 p.m. Wednesday. The initial shots came inside the 1st Medical Brigade Area, he said, then the gunman got into a vehicle and went to a second building where he continued shooting.

Within 15 minutes military police responded. Milley said a female officer confronted Lopez in a parking lot near the second building. He approached the officer but stopped about 20 feet from her and put his hands up. Then, Milley said, the gunman reached into his jacket and pulled out his weapon. As the officer opened fire, the man shot himself in the head.

AFP Photo/Jim Watson

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.