Four people are dead, including gunman Ivan Lopez, and 16 others were wounded Wednesday after a soldier opened fire at Fort Hood, Texas.
According to the Army, Lopez was carrying a handgun that was not registered at Fort Hood. He was able to claim three lives and wound sixteen others before killing himself.
I had the chance to ask Commissioner Steven Rogers, who is the Director of Public Affairs on the Township of Nutley Board of Commissioners, his take on the recent tragedy that unfolded at Fort Hood. Rogers is also an Air Force Veteran and retired Detective Lieutenant of the Nutley Police Department.
Me: What could have been the motivation for this?
Rogers: Well, to begin with, there are two separate investigations going on. One of which is the terrorism connection; that has to be ruled out. The other investigation is going to determine if [Lopez] was under any sort of mental health counseling.
As I said on Fox this morning, one of the problems veterans are facing is the lack of effectiveness in addressing a lot of the mental health problems our Veterans facing.
Me: How often are there cases of veterans acting out in this manner?
Rogers: The unemployment rate is high, the economy is bad and people are desperate and need to survive. Many are undergoing counseling to curb depression, some end up taking medication and some of them just lose it and unfortunately it just results in the is kind of stuff
On average between 1 and 20 veterans commit suicide everyday. There has also been an increase of sexual assault and domestic violence – a lot of this has been traced back to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
There’s also a lot of homelessness. Moreover, their lack of ability to find jobs are causing a lot of them to become depressed. These are issues our government should be addressing, but are not being very effectively handled.
Me: This incident is bound to bring up the subject of gun control that has been bouncing around a lot lately. What’s your stance on gun control?
Rogers: I’m completely against gun control; I’m for reasonable regulations. However, in a case like this, had there been military personnel armed, as well as in other shootings, the casualty rate would not have been as high.
What the Obama administration has failed to acknowledge is that we are at war – and military instillations are targets.
“When our soldiers are unarmed, they will find themselves in a situation like yesterday and in 2009,” Sgt. Howard Ray, a survivor of the 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, which resulted in the death 13 people, told Fox News.
What was the motive?
Currently, there is no answer to that question.
Fort Hood commanding officer Mark Milley said Lopez walked into one of the unit buildings, opened fire, then got into a vehicle and fired from there. He then went into another building and opened fire again, until he was confronted by Fort Hood law enforcement.
When engaged by a female military police officer, he killed himself with his semi-automatic weapon in the parking lot.
“He was approaching her at about 20 feet. He put his hands up, then reached under his jacket, pulled out the (.45) and she pulled out her weapon and then she engaged, and he then he put the weapon to his head,” Milley said.
Lopez, a 34-year-old specialist, served four months in Iraq and was undergoing treatment for mental health issues.
Milley said, “He was not wounded, according to our records.” However, Lopez “self-reported” suffering a traumatic brain injury while deployed, he said.
Lopez was a native of Puerto Rico. He was married with a young child and moved to the post in Killeen in February from another military installation. He moved into an apartment there with his wife and their daughter just a little more than a week before the shooting occurred.
“Lopez was undergoing a variety of treatments for conditions including depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances,” Army Secretary John McHugh said. “He was prescribed drugs that included Ambien, a sleep aid. Lopez was fully examined last month by a psychiatrist.”
According to McHugh, there was no record of any sign he was likely to commit violence against himself or others. “So the plan [going] forward was just to continue to monitor and treat him as deemed appropriate,” he said.
President Barack Obama said he was “heartbroken”.
“We are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened,” Obama said. “We’re heartbroken that something like this might have happened again.”