Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Update On Fort Hood Shooting

The Fort Hood Public Affairs Office offers the below piece:

FORT HOOD, Texas -- At a press conference 3 p.m. April 7, Col. Paul Reese, III Corps and Fort Hood chief of operations, and Chris Grey, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command spokesman, gave further details of the investigation into the April 2 shooting incident.

Reese began by extending his "deepest sympathies and prayers to the loved ones, friends, families and our Fort Hood community that have been affected by those killed and injured during this tragic event. The Soldiers, Families and civilians here at Fort Hood and our surrounding communities continue to work around the clock and support all of the victims and their families during this painful time."

He then outlined the Fort Hood commander's current priorities:

First, care for the wounded and their Families and the Families of the Fallen;

Second, conduct a thorough and focused criminal investigation to determine the root causes of this incident.  In addition, conduct a comprehensive medical review and review of the policies and procedures throughout III Corps which includes Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, Texas.

And third, continue to ensure that Fort Hood is a safe place to live and work.

Reese said at this time transportation arrangements are being finalized to move the deceased to their homes of record for their final funeral arrangements. Additionally,  he said 11 of the 16 injured have been returned to duty so far.  Five remain hospitalized in the local area.

He said, "III Corps and Fort Hood [officials] have scheduled a memorial ceremony  for  2 p.m. April 9 at Fort Hood’s Sadowski Field. This ceremony will allow the Soldiers and Families the time to remember and honor our fallen and injured Soldiers."

Reese said, "President Obama is scheduled to attend the ceremony along with elected and government officials from across the nation."

Reese told reporters that "a behavioral health hotline has been established for anyone who has been affected by the April 2 shooting here at Fort Hood. Anyone who wants assistance locating behavioral health professionals in the local area, can call (254) 535-2748. We do request that the hotline is only used for behavioral health purposes."

In addition, Reese explained that "urgent and routine behavioral health resources, normally only available for TRICARE beneficiaries, have now been made available to all Army civilians and contractors, who are associated with this incident, here at Fort Hood. For assistance there, contact the Fort Hood Resilience and Restoration Center."

Reese also said that "Fort Hood has received an enormous outpouring of donation support from our local and national communities. We thank you for your generosity to our Soldiers and their Families affected by this event. Currently, all donations are being accepted by The National Center for Victims of Crime. Please visit their Web site at www.NationalCompassionFund.org in order to donate. For more details on how o donate, visit the III Corps and Fort Hood Facebook page."

Reese closed with, "we want to thank our Army family, our tremendous Fort Hood community, the state of Texas, and our nation for all your support. The Fort Hood Community and all the Soldiers of III Corps remain ready and resilient."

He then introduced Grey who provided an update on the investigation.

Grey, spokesperson for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and the Joint Task Force, led by Army CID, investigating the shootings that occurred here on April 2, updated the press on their ongoing criminal investigation.

Grey first introduced law enforcement professionals he said "have been incredibly valuable and dedicated throughout this investigation. They have demonstrated true inter-agency cooperation and teamwork during this very trying time, and Army CID would like to express our sincere appreciation."

He introduced Army CID Special Agent Russell Hudson and FBI Supervisory Special Agent Phil Gadd.

Grey then said, "unfortunately, a representative from the Texas Rangers could not be with us today but we’d like to express our thanks to them as well."

Grey pointed out that "this is an active investigation that includes three alleged murders of U.S. Soldiers, 16 counts of attempted murder, as well as an alleged suicide .

"The following information and sequence of events are based on information yielded from our investigation thus far," Grey said. "The information has been obtained from witness interviews, witness statement analysis, forensics, bullet trajectory analysis, and an extensive crime scene examination and re-creation."

Grey explained that "the crime scene encompasses a very large area, comparable to two city blocks."

He also said, "at this point in the investigation, we can confirm that the alleged shooter, Specialist Ivan Lopez, was involved in a verbal altercation concerning his request for leave and the processing of that request at his unit’s administrative office."

Grey then walked reporters through the basic scenario that his office had "re-created from our investigation thus far."

In describing the map to reporters, Grey said, "The verbal altercation occurred at Building 39001 – circled here in red – the building is located at the intersection of Seventy Second Street and Tank Destroyer Boulevard," he said. "Within minutes of that altercation, the subject brandished a .45 caliber, semi-automatic handgun and fired multiple rounds, killing one Soldier, and wounding 10 additional Soldiers."

"The deceased Soldier, and at least one of the wounded Soldiers, had been involved in the verbal altercation with the subject prior to the shooting.

"The subject then exited the administration building through a door on the South side, and got into his privately owned vehicle, that was also parked on the South side of the building.

"The subject then drove his vehicle Westbound and turned North onto 73rd Street. According to witness statements, the subject was traveling very slowly North bound in the South bound lane.

"Along the way – circled here in yellow - the subject fired his weapon from his moving vehicle at two Soldiers who were standing behind a building, wounding one of them.

"He then continued North and turned West onto Motorpool Road, and then turned into Building 40027’s parking area – circled here in green.

"Specialist Lopez then allegedly exited his vehicle and entered the building, which encompasses the unit’s Motorpool office and the vehicle bay area.  This is also where Specialist Lopez was assigned and worked.

"The subject opened fire and shot one Soldier in the motor pool office, who unfortunately died later of his wounds.

"The subject then moved to the motor pool’s vehicle bay area and began shooting, wounding two more Soldiers.

"The subject then returned to his vehicle and began driving East bound on Motorpool Road toward 73rd Street.

"While driving Eastbound – depicted here by the blue box -   the subject allegedly fired into the front windshield of a moving Westbound privately owned vehicle that was occupied by two Soldiers, striking and wounding the passenger.

"The subject then turned North and then East into the parking lot of the Medical Brigade,  Building 33026, – circled here in blue -firing at and wounding a Soldier who was walking outside the building.

"The subject then exited his vehicle and entered the main entrance to the Medical building.

"Upon entry, the subject allegedly shot and killed a Soldier who was on duty at the main entrance desk and wounded another.

"At this point, we do not know why he entered that building, and we may never know why.

"The subject then exited the Medical Brigade, re-entered his vehicle and traveled South on 72nd Street and turned East into the front parking lot of Building 39002.

"The subject then exited his vehicle – circled here in purple - and walked Eastbound across the parking lot where he approached  a responding Fort Hood Military Police Officer.

"Subsequently, there was a verbal exchange between the officer and the subject.  The Military Police Officer drew her weapon and fired one round when the subject reportedly brandished his weapon," Grey said.

"Autopsy results of the alleged shooter from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner has confirmed that the subject was not struck by the military police officer’s fire," Grey continued.

"The subject then allegedly placed his .45 caliber handgun to his head, and took his own life. This entire scenario described lasted approximately eight minutes from when the first 911 calls were received until the shooter allegedly took his life and we received calls that the shooter was down."

"At this point in the ongoing investigation, we have collected more than 235 pieces of evidence.  We believe the subject fired more than 35 rounds of .45 caliber, ball ammunition," Grey said. "Army CID Special Agents, along with other law enforcement partners, collected 3 spent shell casings from inside the subject’s vehicle, and 32 shell casings from various locations throughout the crime scene.

"To date, we have canvassed or interviewed more than 1,100 people associated with this case. The evidence recovered in the commission of these crimes is being processed at the Defense Forensic Science Center’s, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory in Atlanta, Georgia," he said. "I can also confirm that we have completed processing of the crime scene, and have released the entire area back to Fort Hood officials."

Grey confirmed again that there was "only one alleged subject connected to these shootings and he is deceased. We have found no evidence that these crimes were connected to a terrorist or extremist organization, but again, we have not completely ruled that out in order to conduct a thorough and complete felony investigation."

Grey said, "We have not confirmed a definitive motive, but are doing everything possible to do so.  We are considering all credible information and evidence to include social and digital media aspects of the case. We have not uncovered any history of criminal convictions or previous criminal activity by Specialist Lopez."

Grey closed his portion of the press conference, thanking Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley and his entire staff for the support his investigators have received during the investigation. "It’s been very trying for the whole Fort Hood community."

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