The family of the Puerto Rican solider who killed three people and wounded 16 others at Texas’ Fort Hood military base released a statement Friday expressing their shock and asking for prayers for the victims of the shooting.
In a statement sent out to the media by family spokesman Glidden López Torres, the father of Iván López – also named Iván – said that he was surprised to hear that his son had committed the atrocity and described him as a quiet, hardworking family man.
“This situation is very painful,” the senior López said. “I ask for prayers for all the families affected, especially when there is an investigation underway.”
“My son could not have been in his right mind, he could not be so,” López added.
Spc. Iván López turned his gun on himself after killing three people and wounding 16 others Wednesday at the sprawling Texas base, where more than a dozen people were fatally shot by a soldier in 2009. An Army truck driver from Puerto Rico, López was undergoing treatment for depression and anxiety while being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder, base officials said.
Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, senior officer at the nation's largest Army base, said there was a "strong indication" that López was involved in a verbal altercation shortly before the shooting, though it doesn't appear he targeted specific soldiers during the attack. Investigators also are focusing on his mental health.
"We have very strong evidence that he had a medical history that indicates unstable psychiatric or psychological condition," Milley said. "We believe that to be a fundamental, underlying cause."
López had reported to medical personnel that he had suffered a traumatic brain injury. The 34-year-old served four months in Iraq but saw no combat, and he previously had demonstrated no apparent risk of violence.
“[López] was undergoing medical treatment and the deaths of his mother, his grandfather and the recent changes he went through when moving to a different base most probably affected his existing condition given his experiences as a soldier,” the family’s statement said.
López Torres said López's mother died of a heart attack in November.
The soldier was upset that he was granted only a 24-hour leave to attend her funeral, which was delayed for nearly a week so he could be there, the spokesman said. The leave was then extended to two days. Army officials would not comment on López’s bereavement leave.
López joined the island's National Guard in 1999, and he served on a yearlong peacekeeping mission in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in the mid-2000s. He enlisted with the Army in 2008, and arrived at Fort Hood in February from Fort Bliss, a Texas post near the Mexico border.
He saw a psychiatrist last month and showed no "sign of any likely violence either to himself or others," said Army Secretary John McHugh.
Suzie Miller, a 71-year-old retired property manager who lived in the same Killeen apartment complex as López, said few people knew him and his wife well because they had just moved in a few weeks ago.
"I'd see him in his uniform heading out to the car every morning," Miller said. "He was friendly to me and a lot of us around here."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.