The only thing Ivan Hurtado Lopez has in this world is his name and that was taken from him Wednesday, he said.
A former Fort Hood soldier, Lopez said he was taken aback after several media outlets plucked a 2010 archive photo from the Killeen Daily Herald’s website and mistakenly identified him as the soldier who shot and killed three people and injured 16 others Wednesday.
Now, the 32-year-old father and husband is trying to clear his name.
“I am not the monster the media is making me out to be,” he said. “I did my eight years honorably and because people were in a rush to be the first ones to identify the shooter, I’m stuck with trying to clear my name.”
A Tucson, Ariz., native, he currently lives in Phoenix with his wife of 12 years, Ysabel, and their 9-year-old daughter, Ivanelizabeth. He currently attends a refrigeration technical school.
“I had just left class when the first phone calls and text messages started to come in from friends looking to see where I was and making sure I was OK,” he said Friday morning. “When I got on the Internet on my phone and learned about the shooting, I was like: ‘Please be lying.’”
Lopez used to live in Texas and was stationed at Fort Hood from September 2007 to March 2011 before he medically retired from the Army.
Websites began circulating a 2010 Herald photo of Lopez stringing a fly fishing lure. The photo was used this week without permission by other media outlets, which identified the man in the photo as the shooter.
Early Thursday, the Herald removed the photo from its website to prevent its circulation with other media outlets’ reports of Wednesday’s shooting.
“What are the chances of having the same name and rank and matching the same description of a Hispanic male between 30 and 34 who went to Iraq and served at Fort Hood?” he said. “At first, I shrugged it off and laughed ... but then when my name and photo were all over the TV and Internet two hours later, it wasn’t funny anymore.”
It was Spc. Ivan Antonio Lopez who officials said opened fire on fellow soldiers before killing himself Wednesday.
Back in Arizona, Ivan H. Lopez was fielding phone calls from 4 a.m. until 4 p.m. Thursday.
He said reporters called and asked: “Are you the shooter?”
“I was like, ‘It’s impossible to be talking to a dead person,’” Lopez said. “I’m not him.”
Lopez said he turned to his Facebook page and posted a status letting friends and family know he’s not the “mentally unstable monster” the media is painting him out to be and that he is very much alive and innocent.
“It’s ridiculous that the news media ran with the information without verifying,” he said. “All it would have taken was a phone call to me because my phone number was posted on my Facebook and Twitter page. ... It’s better to be right and have done the research than to be first and be wrong.”
He served four years in the Marine Corps and did two tours in Iraq before joining the Army, where he served for 3½ years before being medically retired. He was at Fort Hood in 2009 when Nidal Hasan shot and killed 13 people.
All he wants now is his name back, free and clear.
“My wife and I are in contact with a lawyer to see what I can do. I don’t want any money, I just want to clear my name,” he said.
Contact Vanessa Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7567.