Four people were killed when an Iraq War veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder went on a rampage at Ford Hood, Texas, the scene of a 2009 massacre that killed 13.
Three soldiers were killed in the attack and the gunman, identified as 34-year-old Spc. Ivan Lopez, killed himself with a gunshot to the head from a concealed 45-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun as he was confronted by a female military police officer.
A further 16 soldiers were injured, some critically, base commander Lt. Gen. Mark Milley told a press conference.
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Milley said he was not ruling out any motive, but said there were no signs pointing to terrorism.
The general did not identify Lopez by name, just saying he was a married man living in the Fort Hood area and had arrived at Fort Hood from another facility in Texas in February. However the name had earlier been revealed by Texas Rep. Mike McCaul.
The gunman had served four months in Iraq in 2011 and was taking medication, Milley said. He was being evaluated for PTSD and had told the Army that he suffered from the disorder.
Milley described him as having behavioral and mental health issues.
"Our focus right now is on the families of the injured and on the families of the killed," he said. "Events of the past have taught us a lot. We will get through this."
The commanding officer said the shooting began around 4 p.m. Central Time when the gunman entered a building and fired shots. He then got into his car, drove to another building and fired there.
When he was approached by the female officer he pulled out his handgun and shot himself in the head. The entire incident lasted between 15 and 20 minutes
The gun had not been issued by the Army but had been "purchased recently in the local area," Milley said, as he praised the officer that confronted Lopez.
"It was clearly heroic what she did," Milley said. "She did exactly what is expected of a U.S. military police officer."
Rep. John Carter, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee, whose congressional district covers Fort Hood, said Lopez was an active military truck driver who was on duty when the shooting occurred.
A senior Department of Homeland Security source had earlier told Fox News the incident was "soldier on soldier" without any terrorism link.
After the shooting began, Fort Hood was placed on emergency. The order at the base — the largest in the country — was lifted at 8:45 p.m.
Scanner chatter indicated that authorities believed the shooter was a white man, around 180 to 200 pounds, driving a 2011 gray Toyota Camry.
NBC's Brian Williams tweeted out that the incident began with an argument between two soldiers.
President Barack Obama promised "to get to the bottom of exactly what happened."
"Any shooting is troubling," he said in a taped statement made in Chicago where he was attending Democratic Party fundraisers. "Obviously, this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood four years ago.
"Our thoughts and our prayers are with the Fort Hood community," added Obama. "We're heartbroken that something like this might have happened again. We ask that everyone keep the families and the community of Fort Hood in their prayers.
"The folks there have sacrificed so much for our freedom. They have served with valor. They have served with distinction. Fort Hood is their home — and it is unfortunate that their sense of safety has been broken again."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement saying, "As Texans, our first priority must be caring for the victims and their families," he said. "Ft. Hood has proven its resilience before, and will again. Texas will support those efforts in any way we can, with any resources necessary."
Many of the injured were taken to Scott & White Memorial Hospital in nearby Killeen. Chief medical officer Glen Couchman told a press conference nine patients were being treated and one more was expected.
Three were in critical condition while the others were in serious condition. All were taken to the intensive care unit and two had undergone surgery.
The victims had gunshot wounds to the neck, chest and abdomen, he said. The injuries appeared to be single gunshot wounds.
"The situation appears at this point to be pretty-well contained," Couchman said.
"This is another sad day for central Texas," said Couchman, who added that he worked at the hospital during the 2009 shootings.
"It’s a tragic event and it could happen anywhere," Couchman said. "It’s not a comment on Fort Hood or our military."
The attack came just two days after the FBI said it had launched a manhunt for a former military recruit who had told friends he was planning a "jihad" attack, inspired by the 2009 shooting at the base. The FBI later played down the significance of that report, saying they had interviewed a man who was not considered a threat.
The Bell County Sheriff's Office dispatched deputies and troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety to Fort Hood after receiving reports of an "active shooter," sheriff's Lt. Donnie Adams told the Associated Press.
FBI spokeswoman Michelle Lee said its agents had also headed to the scene. Central Texas College was evacuated as a precaution and several local schools placed on lockdown.
"It’s chaos," a source outside the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Ft. Hood, told Fox News. "I see lots of ambulances coming in. There are helicopters everywhere."
Police secured the base perimeter, emergency vehicles rushed to the scene and helicopters circled overhead as officers went from building to building searching for the shooter.
A base announcement told people to lock their windows and doors, while scores of police cars and ambulances arrived at the scene, TV images showed.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn issued a statement saying Texans’ hearts are "once again very heavy."
"The scenes coming from Ft. Hood today are sadly too familiar and still too fresh in our memories," said Cornyn. "No community should have to go through this horrific violence once, let alone twice."
The attack brought back memories of the November 2009 attack when a U.S. Army major shot and killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others during a shooting spree.
Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan was convicted and sentenced to death last year in the Nov. 5, 2009, attack on his fellow soldiers as they waited inside a crowded building. Soldiers there were waiting to get vaccines and routine paperwork after recently returning from deployments or while preparing to go to Afghanistan and Iraq.
According to testimony during his trial last August, Hasan walked inside carrying two weapons and several loaded magazines, shouted "Allahu Akbar!" — Arabic for "God is great!" — and opened fire with a handgun.
Witnesses said he targeted soldiers as he walked through the building, leaving pools of blood, spent casings and dying soldiers on the floor. Photos of the scene were shown to the 13 officers on the military jury.
The rampage ended when Hasan was shot in the back by Fort Hood police officers outside the building, which left him paralyzed from the waist down. Hasan is now on death row at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.
After that shooting, the military tightened security at bases nationwide. Those measures included issuing security personnel long-barreled weapons, adding an insider-attack scenario to their training, and strengthening ties to local law enforcement, according to Peter Daly, a vice admiral who retired from the Navy in 2011.
The military also joined an FBI intelligence-sharing program aimed at identifying terror threats.
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The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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