FORT HOOD — Officials confirmed Monday a dispute over a request for leave was the likely catalyst for Wednesday’s shooting that left four dead and 16 wounded.
Chris Grey, Army Criminal Investigation Division spokesman, said investigating officials determined Spc. Ivan A. Lopez was involved in a verbal altercation regarding the processing of a leave request at his unit’s administration office just before the incident began.
Grey and other officials said last week they believed an argument triggered the shooting.
On Monday, Grey revealed a blow-by-blow account of the shooting, which lasted just more than eight minutes from the initial 911 call until Lopez, 34, killed himself. The incident occurred in and around multiple buildings on post, creating a sprawling crime scene roughly the size of two city blocks.
Grey said the verbal altercation occurred at the 49th Transportation Battalion Headquarters building at the intersection of 72nd Street and Tank Destroyer Boulevard. Lopez left the building and returned within minutes with a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun, and fired multiple rounds.
The initial hail of gunfire killed one soldier who was involved in the verbal altercation, and wounded 10 others, Grey said.
Lopez then exited the building and drove his vehicle westbound until turning north on 73rd Street, Grey said.
Witnesses told investigators Lopez drove “very slowly” northbound in a southbound lane. He fired his weapon from the vehicle at two soldiers standing behind a building, one of whom was wounded, Grey said.
Lopez continued north until turning west on Motor Pool Road and into the parking lot of Building 40027, which houses the motor pool office and vehicle bay area.
He entered the building and opened fire, killing one soldier in the motor pool office, Grey said. Lopez then moved to the vehicle bay area where he wounded two more soldiers before returning to his vehicle and driving eastbound on Motor Pool Road toward 73rd Street.
Grey said Monday that Lopez was assigned to work at Building 40027.
Next, Lopez traveled eastbound, allegedly firing into the front windshield of a vehicle traveling westbound that was occupied by two soldiers. The bullet struck and wounded the passenger.
1st Medical Brigade
Lopez turned north and then east into the parking lot of the 1st Medical Brigade Headquarters building, where he fired from his vehicle and wounded another soldier in the parking lot. Lopez exited his vehicle and entered the main entrance of the medical building where he shot and killed the soldier on duty at the main entrance and wounded another, Grey said.
“At this point, we do not know why he entered that building, and we may never know why,” he said.
Building parking lot
After leaving the building, Lopez re-entered his vehicle and drove south on 72nd Street. He turned east into the front parking lot of Building 39002, the 180th Transportation Battalion Headquarters. He again exited the vehicle and walked eastbound across the parking lot where he was approached by a female Fort Hood military police officer responding to the 911 call.
Grey said there was a verbal exchange between the officer and Lopez. The officer drew her weapon and fired one round after Lopez allegedly brandished his weapon.
“Lopez then allegedly placed his .45-caliber handgun to his head and took his own life,” Grey said. Autopsy results confirmed the military police officer did not shoot Lopez.
According to investigators, Lopez fired 35 rounds during the incident. The detailed timeline of events was obtained from witness interviews, witness statement analysis, forensics, bullet trajectory analysis and an extensive crime scene examination and re-creation, Grey said.
Investigators interviewed or canvassed about 1,100 people and collected 235 pieces of evidence. The multiagency investigation, headed by the CID, involved nearly 100 investigators from multiple federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
While the investigation continues, Fort Hood is sending the bodies of those killed back to their loved ones. A memorial will be held Wednesday to honor Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Michael Ferguson, 39, Staff Sgt. Carlos A. Lazaney-Rodriguez, 38, and Sgt. Timothy Wayne Owens, 37, who were killed in the shooting.
Col. Paul Reese, III Corps chief of Current Operations, also said Monday 11 of the 16 wounded soldiers returned to duty. Three are in fair condition at Scott & White Hospital in Temple, where they are expected to remain for a few days.
“It’s been a trying time for the Fort Hood community,” Grey said.
Contact Natalie Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7555