The parallels between the massacre of 13 soldiers by Major Malik Hasan at Fort Hood in 2009 and three soldiers there by Spec. Ivan Lopez on Wednesday afternoon are disturbing. Despite promises from officials, starting with the president on down, that nothing like this would happen again, it happened again. At about 4:30 p.m., Specialist Fourth Class Ivan Lopez entered a building on the Fort Hood campus, where he apparently became involved in an argument with another soldier. He pulled his recently purchased .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun and began firing.
He then left the building, got into his car, and continued shooting, apparently randomly, at other soldiers. He exited the car and was confronted by a female MP, whereupon he turned his weapon on himself.
In 2009, Hasan entered a building (which has since been demolished) where soldiers were getting their final medical checks prior to being shipped to Afghanistan. Shouting “Allahu Akbar!” (Arabic for “God is great”), Hasan opened fire using recently purchased firearms. The shooting lasted for 10 minutes, during which time he had to time to reload and continue the massacre. In August 2013, after a brief trial, Hasan was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. He remains in jail during the appeal process, which could last months, perhaps even years.
The similarities and differences in the two attacks are striking and instructive. In Hasan’s case, there were clues that he was becoming a threat, but the danger he posed was either ignored or only became evident after the massacre. He had even e-mailed back and forth with known Muslim terrorists.
In Lopez’ case it is clear that he was mentally unbalanced, having been treated for depression just a few days before Wednesday’s massacre. Some have suggested he was suffering from PTSD following a brief stint in Iraq in 2011, but he served in a support position, not on the front lines.
In Hasan’s case his attack was ended by a local police officer, while Lopez’s ended when confronted by an MP. In neither case were the criminal attackers confronted by their victims with deadly force. That deadly force came from elsewhere.
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Photo: AP Images