The Fort Hood gunman opened fire after he tried to pick up a form to request time off and was told to come back later, according to the father of a soldier injured in the attack.
The father said that he learned of the account directly from his son, Army Sgt. Jonathan Westbrook, who was struck by four bullets, and from other sources. The military has released few details about what motivated the shooting rampage.
The father, Theodis Westbrook, told NBC affiliate WLBT in Mississippi that his son worked in the personnel office at the base. The father said he was told that the gunman, identified as Spc. Ivan Lopez, went to the office to get a leave form and was told to come back the next day to pick it up.
The gunman left, returned with a gun and opened fire, the father said.
“The first guy he shot right in front of my son was killed, and then he turned the gun towards Jonathan, aimed it and fired,” the father told WLBT. “I don’t know how many times he fired, but he hit my son four times.”
Lopez’s family suggested in a statement Friday that his transfer from another base in February, along with the recent deaths of his mother and grandfather, may have changed his mental state.
For hours after the shooting on Wednesday, Theodis Westbrook said he knew only that his son had been shot. He said his thoughts went to the 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, which left 13 people dead.
The father finally heard from his son at midnight Thursday:
“He said, ‘I’m fine.’ I said, ‘I’m coming over there.’ He said, ‘You don’t have to come over there. They have everything on lockdown. You can’t come. I’m fine. And the phone messed up. It went out. And so, I felt a little bit better because I heard his voice.”
— Erin McClam
First published April 4 2014, 10:32 AM